It’s the time of year that player and team predictions start trickling out. Most are just some blowhard’s thoughts on a team he rarely watches (for example, BN’s annual and upcoming “Why X Team Will Suck in 2011” series), but others are deeply involved statistical analyses that are a little bit harder to ignore.
Such are the annual Baseball Prospectus projections. And a warning: they are profoundly unkind to the 2011 iteration of the Chicago Cubs.*
BP has the Cubs finishing a lowly 70-92, 5th in the NL Central, ahead of only the Pirates. The Cubs will finish as the 8th worst team in all of baseball on the strength (weakness?) of a pathetic .245/.313/.382 offense (the Cubs went .257/.320/.401 last year – seems like a steep decline) and a pitching staff they say will be third worst in the National League. To the latter point, the Cubs were the 10th worst pitching staff in baseball last year, so the projection is not utterly insane, if overly pessimistic.
Other points of interest: BP thinks the Reds will win the NL Central by 8 games over the Cardinals, who are followed by the Astros (um, what?), and then the Brewers, Cubs, Pirates. BP obviously was not impressed by the Brewers’ offseason: they’ve got the team going just 75-87 and giving up more runs than the Cubs.
*Given that Brewers figure, it must be the case that these projections predate some of the offseason. It’s a bit unclear when the projections were made, but a note on the page suggests they could be as old as September. If so, I’m not sure how much credence even BP would give this particular set of projections.
UPDATE: BP has confirmed that the projections (which are now missing from the above-linked page) were created last year, before the offseason, and they weren’t meant to be posted at this time. While it is likely that BP’s actual 2011 projections will be unkind to the Cubs, we can at least hope they will be slightly less unkind.