FanPost

Looking at the offensive projections (FanGraphs) for 2023 Cubs

So now that the lineup is taking some shape, I thought it would be worth taking a look at what FanGraphs thinks of it. So I've compiled the approximate projected by-position OPS stats for 2023 using two different approaches from FanGraphs: Steamer, and THE BAT X. Because of the differences between the two, I've also taken an average of the two for illustrative purposes. I've also included the expected fWAR by position for 2023. For comparison, I've provided team fWAR from 2022 (because I couldn't find reliable stats by-position stats for fWAR from 2022, as FanGraphs doesn't seem to segment the time spent by each player in their stats) and BBRef's OPS by position from 2022 (for similar reasons to WAR, but understanding that OPS is a standard calc). Note: for both sets of data, we have approximately 6000 PA (6072 in 2022, 6013 in the 2023 projections).

For simplicity, I've grouped positions of 1B/DH and 2B/SS because they weren't as easy to tease out who would play the most and where. I put some of Wisdom's time at 3B and some at DH, and some of Morel's time at 3B and some at CF, as FanGraphs suspects Bellinger will sit against LHP. So here goes:

OPS

fWAR

Position

2022

2023 (Steamer)

2023
(THE BAT X)

2023 (Average)

2022

2023

C

0.790

0.649

0.625

0.637

N/A

2.1

1B/DH

0.658

0.746

0.713

0.730

N/A

2.6

2B/SS

0.668

0.731

0.726

0.728

N/A

7.2

3B

0.702

0.712

0.700

0.706

N/A

2.3

LF

0.771

0.757

0.742

0.750

N/A

2.8

CF

0.654

0.707

0.705

0.706

N/A

2.4

RF

0.731

0.796

0.766

0.781

N/A

3.5

Team

0.698

0.732

0.714

0.723

15.7

23.0

As you can see, the expectation is a notable improvement in offense, somewhere between 16 and 34 OPS points (midpoint of 25 points) and around 6 WAR. Steamer thinks we should be MUCH improved offensively; THE BAT X thinks we're just a solidly improved team. For reference, here are the projected 2023 numbers for each individual player included:

Player

PA

Steamer

THE BAT X

Average

WAR

Barnhart

293

0.616

0.585

0.601

0.9

Gomes

282

0.684

0.666

0.675

1.2

Hosmer

442

0.747

0.705

0.726

0.6

Mervis

289

0.792

0.688

0.740

1.0

Mancini

520

0.728

0.736

0.732

0.8

Hoerner

602

0.745

0.710

0.728

3.5

Madrigal

101

0.695

0.653

0.674

0.4

Morel

474

0.729

0.700

0.715

2.2

Wisdom

339

0.696

0.706

0.701

0.8

Swanson

696

0.724

0.750

0.737

3.3

Happ

644

0.757

0.742

0.750

2.8

Bellinger

484

0.700

0.707

0.704

1.7

Suzuki

589

0.813

0.784

0.799

3.3

Velazquez

184

0.698

0.660

0.679

0.3

McKinstry

74

0.699

0.680

0.690

0.2

As we can see, the projections are quite mixed on Mervis, as to be expected for a rookie. Bellinger is expected to bounce back just a tad. If I had to guess, the projections are too high on Bellinger, a bit too high Hoerner, too low on Wisdom, and a bit too low on Swanson (who hasn't OPS'd below .747 in the last 4 years). But overall I think in aggregate they're pretty reasonable, perhaps even a bit conservative. That shouldn't be surprising: FanGraphs does a great job with their work.

I think it's a nice illustration of how the team has improved over last year. We appear to be much more insulated from the chasm that we had last year when injuries happened at 2B and RF, and we don't have the same risk at 1B/DH that we had last year with Schwindel and Rivas as the primary options heading into the season. And we have better injury-risk subs than we had last year.

These guys don't have high ceilings at the plate (except Bellinger), but they have high floors (again, except Bellinger). And it's avoiding those catastrophic holes in the lineup that is what allows the above-average hitters to push the team to above average overall, even in the absence of true impact hitters.

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