The 2013 Cubs Have a 3% Chance of Winning 91 Games and Other Bullets

anthony rizzo happy celebrationWith our second kid on the way in about a month – a boy, this one – we’ve entered that crazy preparation mode that every set of soon-to-be parents (or soon-to-be-again parents) enters. I spent my night last night assembling some kind of wooden thing that is important for the future of the family or some such thing. I do what I’m told. Now we’re off to Target to buy them out of baby-related supplies.

  • On paper, after accounting for the not-yet-but-will-be additions of Carlos Villanueva and Scott Hairston, FanGraphs’ Bradley Woodrum calculates that the Cubs’ projected win total is in the 77 to 79 win range. Further, the calculations show that the Cubs have a 3% chance of reaching 91 wins, which is a pretty easy proxy for a playoff team. Teams routinely “luck” into winning five to ten more games than the numbers say they should have, so if the Cubs are truly a 79 win team on paper, winning 85 games isn’t that far out of the realm of possibility. That said, I have trouble accepting the 77 to 79 win range, largely because I believe that, if the Cubs aren’t clearly in the race come early July, they’re going to look to sell off. And once you start the sell-off, that win total will drop rapidly. I’m not trying to be pessimistic about the 2013 Cubs, just realistic – a 25-win improvement is an exceedingly rare thing, and tends to come where a team has added multiple big-time pieces AND has multiple young players on the verge of a breakout. Is that the Cubs? You could make the argument, and, as the season approaches, we’ll probably make those arguments. For now, I simply think it’s interesting to point out where the projections say the Cubs are expected to fall.
  •’s Jonathan Mayo has started putting together his top ten positional prospect lists in the lead-up to his revised top 100 prospects for 2013, and his shortstop list features Javier Baez in the number three spot, behind only Jurickson Profar and Francisco Lindor (ahead of Xander Bogaerts). Mayo’s remarks on Baez: ”Taken No. 9 overall in the 2011 Draft, just one spot after Lindor, Baez might be the more dynamic pure hitter of the two, even if Lindor is the better defender. Baez’s plus bat speed will allow him to hit for average and power, both of which have already been on display, and he will improve as he refines his approach. He’s not without defensive skills, with a strong arm and good hands, and more folks are thinking he can stay at shortstop than did when he was coming out of the Florida high school ranks. Even if Baez has to slide to third base, his bat will profile just fine there.”
  • A profile on relief prospect Tony Zych from CSN. He’ll be a fun one to watch in Spring Training, and, if his progress continues in the first half, he’s a guy you could see at Wrigley in the second half. Zych came in for some love – and info – on this week’s podcast, by the way.
  • Another prospecting bit from Vine Line, this one on relatively new Cubs pitching prospect Barret Loux. In Loux, we might get to see just how far having four average pitches can get you – and that’s not necessarily a knock.
  • The 2013 Under Armour All-America Baseball Game – a showcase for the top high school prospects in the country – will be at Wrigley once again this year. The game is August 24 at 1:30pm CT, and it’ll be on MLB Network.
  • I was on Chicagoland Sports Radio‘s Jmack and Nate Vash Show (that’d be Jason McKie and Nate Vasher, for you Bears fans) yesterday, which was fun. I’ve got an mp3 of the appearance that I’d like to share for those who missed it, but I’m still working on the logistics of that. So, for now, this Bullet is mostly just a pat on my back.
  • Lip-reading umpire/manager fights. It turns out that managers curse a lot. Who knew?
  • Stalking is a scary, uncool thing, and Theo Epstein’s stalker is going to be in some trouble.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

83 responses to “The 2013 Cubs Have a 383 Chance of Winning 91 Games and Other Bullets”

  1. Nick Pipitone

    “So you’re saying I havre a chance…” — Jim Carrey

  2. dan

    ok 77-79 wins I was more at the number 82-85 Where would we be at if and when we sigh Bourn ?

    1. @cubsfantroy

      71-74 if we signed Bourn.

  3. HR Trucker


    I’m excited to keep seeing our prospects develop and can honestly deal with the rebuild process just off of seeing them coming up. On a side thanks for getting us through the winter off season your site rocks. Now enjoy bring up your own little prospects, you’ve got one in low A and the other going to rookie ball.

  4. dan

    does anyone know how many of the top 100 free agents at the start of the season that we have signed? And who signed the most out of the top 100?

  5. Die hard

    Sori will not duplicate last yr and Rizzo could have Soph slump as league catches up to him- no power and suspect staff equals 65 wins max is how I see it

    1. Blublud

      Such the enthusiast.

    2. Blublud

      Oh, and they way I see it, we have 2 potential 30 HR guys, and 2 potential 20 HR guys, and a couple potential 15 HR guys. I not saying everybody will max out, but don’t be surprised is power is a bright spot on this team.

      1. Voice of reason

        @ blublud

        Please share the following…

        The two guys who will hit 30hrs.

        The two guys who will hit 20hrs

        The two guys who will hit 15hrs

        1. Luke

          30 HR – Soriano and Rizzo. Neither of those are a huge stretch, but it assumes both guys stay healthy all year.

          20 HR – Got nothing.

          15 HR – Castro, Castillo, maybe Stewart if he can stay healthy. If Jackson is up all year, he could be in that range.

          1. yield51

            Just missed your list Luke

          2. Kevin B

            Actually is Stewart is healthy he should be more of a 20+ homer guy, that was more in line with what who he was supposed to be as a prospect. We shall see. But if he is not fully healthy he should get 15 easy if he plays all year though that would be disappointing.

          3. fromthemitten

            I think Stewart could hit 25-ish if he’s healthy and doesn’t get put into a platoon situation. He’s done it before.

        2. yield51

          Sori and Rizzo could hit 30

          Stewart and Castillo could hit 20

          Castro and RF (Hairston/Schierholtz) could hit 15

        3. Stockholm Cubs

          Perhaps the two guys who will hit 30HRs are in all three categories? :)

        4. mjhurdle

          Potential for 30:
          - Soriano (30+ last year), Rizzo (15 in just over half a season)
          Potential for 20:
          - Castro (14 last year, totals have been going up every year), Hairston (20+ last year)
          Potential for 15:
          - Castillo (5 last year in about a third of a season’s ABs). Stewart (If healthy finally should be in the 15-20 range)

          I think the key word he used was ‘potential’.

        5. Durbin

          I could see Soriano and Rizzo hit 30. Castro and Hairston hit 20. Castillo and Stewart and maybe Schierholtz could hit 15.

        6. Blublud

          Soriano and Rizzo could hit 30.
          Castro, Hairston or Stewart if healthy can hit 20. I doubt all 3 will, but the one that doesn’t plus Castillo are the 2 that can hit 15.

  6. Blublud

    Brett, the Cubs won 61 games last year and would have won more if not for the sell off. I’m thinking they would have won close to 70 if the trades don’t take place. Add in the bad luck from the start off last year and you have even more wins. If teams routinely luck into winning 5-10 more games then projected, I’m going to assume they also routinely luck into losing 5-10 more games then projected also. Maybe the Cubs were a 80 win team last year who had some bad luck and turned into a 70 win team, so they sold off and turn into a 61 win team. This team is better then last year just by subtracting Volstad winless streak, Marlon Byrd’s horrendous bat, Soto’s lack of production, Stewards gimpy wrist and Soriano’s lack of power the first 2 months. Add in a deaper rotation, a better bullpen, and a better set of OF, the this Cubs team is clearly above .500 in my opinion.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      The probability of losing 10 more than expected is the same as the probability of winning 10 more than expected for a 0.500 team. For a sub-0.500 team, the probability of losing 10 more than expected is slightly greater than the probability of winning 10 more than expected. The opposite is true for a 0.500 team.

      That said, you are looking at probabilities in the 0.05 territory: i.e., one team in 20. That means we expect one or two each year, just by chance alone. So, it’s not so much that we “routinely” see teams deviate by expectations by so much: we really don’t. However, we do tend to see it annually or semi-annually because each season is 29 seasons. (No, that’s not a typo: the records of the first 29 teams determines that of the 30th.)

  7. Nick Nesler

    It’s awesome how u buy the crib the changing table and all the other stuff they say u have to have and u barely use any of it.

    1. yield51

      A changing table is a waste of money. I suppose it adds some furniture to the nursery, but that is about it. It is much easier to change a diaper on the floor.

      1. baldtaxguy

        Not an option with zero knee cartilage.

      2. Wester

        The changing table is a great place for laundry to wait for the machine to open up.

  8. Kyle

    That’s pretty much spot-on to what I’ve been saying, so I know it’s credible. We’re a borderline .500 team right now, maybe not quite there, but who knows what the team will look like come August 1.

    It’s much easier to have a massive improvement in win total when you are starting from 61 than, say, 71 or 81.

  9. RoughRider

    Just made my contribution by ordering a Long Sleeve Bleacher Nation Shirt.

    A few days ago I predicted the Cubs will finish 10 games under .500. A game below the range that Bradley predicts. (76)

  10. Oswego chris

    I wouldn’t say “clearly” above .500…but I don’t disagree with your premise…there are so many variables in baseball…but they could conceivably contend IF:

    -Smardjiza(sp) develops more…only Verlander had higher average velocity as a starter
    -Rizzo and Castro don’t regress
    -Garza is healthy
    -Stewart isn’t awful
    -Castillo proves to be a major leaguer

    Lots of things would have to go right…I am intrigued by the fact that Smardjiza, Garza, Jackson, baker, Feldman, and Villanueva are all 27 to 30…many pitchers seem to find it at this age…I say they are light years away from last year in terms of quality players

  11. djaws

    The cubs being a playoff contending team in the end isn’t plausible, but them being in it at the all star break is. What happens if that is case? Does win now mode commence or do they just lay off? I’m talking in the future but it’s something to think about.

    1. Rcleven

      Got to believe the Cubs are in sell mode till they are an 80/85 win team. What you will see is they will start becoming more selective on who gets moved and when.

  12. djaws

    forget a word.

  13. djaws

    Really wishin’ there was a edit button right now.

  14. Timmy

    I’m going to predict 68-72 wins out of realism. Soriano won’t quite repeat last year, Rizzo may be better but is still maturing, Castro will get on base a lot but isn’t a power hitter or huge impact player yet. Pitching will be OK but not quite ‘good’. We’re loaded with the equivalent of a bunch of #3 and #4 starters. I like all of the guys we have on staff but don’t think any of them will lead. So I just don’t see how we’ll put together win streaks or build momentum to be near 500. Would be happy to be wrong, and even happier to hear less about hotels and more about big trades or signings.

  15. Fastball

    If we had Bourn as a leadoff hitter and playing CF I think we would have a decent chance this year.
    If we signed him and kept Sori, DeJesus, Hairston, Schierholtz and Sappelt on the Iowa – Chicago commuter flight we would be pretty decent. Here is where I think we can gain a game or two. I think Hairston can play some 3b. He played some 3b in San Diego. He isn’t a full time 3b but he can play the position. You do a platoon with Hairston and Stewart with Hairston starting against lefties. Then you have Bourn, DeJesus, Sori and Hairston in the lineup. It doesn’t strike the fear of God in me if I’m pitching against them. But it could be lineup that just causes some trouble. I like the top with Bourn and Castro and I like the bottom with Hairston, DeJesus and Castillo. If Barney improves his OBP it will cause even more trouble when the lineup rolls over if Bourn and Castro have good OBP seasons. Then Rizzo and Sori will have more meaningful at bats with runners on base who distract a pitcher, the pitcher makes a few mistakes and we have a big inning or innings. Wishful Thinking on my part. Without Bourn we don’t have a table setter at the top and that is really key for a lineup which doesn’t have instant scoring power other than Rizzo and Sori.
    My opinion is that we maximize our 3B production by platooning Stewart and Hairston. We get better defense in CF and RF. IMO our serious weakness then becomes RF which I am not convinced a combination of DeJesus or Schierholtz can produce enough runs to make an impact. This whole thing turns into a triple weakness with no Bourn. CF defense, no leadoff hitter. Here’s to hoping for a formula for success. Sign Bourn to a 2 year deal.

    Hairston or Stewart at 3B

    1. Hansman1982

      Having Bourn at Leadoff over DeJesus would actually cost the cubs runs. The only person in our outfield that Bourn would beat out of a lineup spot is Schierholtz.

      Speed is meaningless to a Leadoff hitter and last year Barney’s home runs provided roughly the same number of expected runs as Bourns stolen bases.

      I want 0 part of Bourn

      1. CubFan Paul

        “Having Bourn at Leadoff over DeJesus would actually cost the cubs runs.”


        1. Crazyhorse

          As time passes I don’t think bourn is a good fit with the Cubs . I like the fact that he plays Centerfield and is a capable of being an above leadoff man with elite speed. I just don’t really have faith in the Cubs field management team., and the front office has assembled a team that actually compliments a platoon split in Center and Right field with the goal to flip for raw pitching as the season develops

          Try to forget about Bourns speed and his glove for a moment . The Cubs coaching staff is weak between the base paths. Watching last years team .one of the biggest coaching failure was base running IQ. Too many times players did not hustle out or had mental lapse on the bases. The small things that can not be measured but if executed correctly then it does by runs scored. base-running is one culprit.

          Our ball players seem to have bad jumps, poor contact rate in hit and run situations advancing from 1st to 3rd, double steals , . I feel these are missed opportunities if not done, that relates to runs not being scored. The Cubs do not manufacture runs and to have a shot a that 3 percent at reaching 90 wins The IQ on the basepaths need to improve and not remain frozen under Lake Michigan in the midst of summer.

          I think if the Cubs did sign bourn his talent would be wasted by the coaching staff that the cubs have in place. I can just imagine the conversation

          Coach1 When should we let Bourn loose ?
          Manager : When ever he wants.
          Coach 2: But … Gets cut off by manager
          Manager . Listen Theo Epstien gives us the players , We play them with the correct Pitching Matchups and the law of averages plays out !
          Coach 3 I though we are suppose too….. Cut off by manger hardly above a whisper.
          Manager LISTEN I GOT THIS JOB ! (for Sevum even with an exclamation mark his tone is monotone ) I know how say sir and i know how to pick up the phone and nod my head. That why we were hired. ……… LOL

          1. Mick

            Wow, just wow.

      2. Blublud

        Ok hansman, this is where metrics become dumb. Not you dumb, but the metrics. There is no way that you can tell me there is a proper metric that tells me dejesus is as valuable Bourn.

        .274 .348 .391 .739 9 HR 42 SB 13 CS 96 runs

        .263 .350 .403 .753 9 HR 7 SB 8 CS 76 runs

        Then Bourns defense destroys this comparison that Bourn was already winning with defense.

        Im not advocating getting rid of dejesus though. He struggled really bad last year vs lefties without a single extra base hit. Bourns splits are even and actually pretty damn good vs lefties. This also makes him more valuable. We can sign bourn, let Dejesus and Hairston platoon in RF, Sappelt can play against some lefties when Bourn needs a day off and be the main RH pinch hitter, Soriano In left and cut out losses with Shierholtz. If this happens, we would have a pretty damn productive outfield.

        1. DarthHater
          1. DarthHater

            And if you think wOBA is a dumb metric, well . . .

            1. Blublud

              Darth, yes. If wOBA say that dejesus is as good as Bourn, I’m saying wOBA is pretty damn useless. This is why I hate these stupid metrics, it takes common sense out of the equation. It doesn’t take metric to see Bourn is clearly the better player. Does wOBA account for defense, because Bourn blows Dejesus and just about any other outfielder out the water. Outside of stolen bases and defense, Dejesus and Bourn are fairly even, but when you add in defense and steals, it not even remotely close. Dejesus is a below average to average defesive player in CF and a average to above average defensive RF. Bourn is the best Defensive OF period. Comeon Kid.

              1. Drew7

                The original comment was from Hans, saying they’d be better off on offense with DeJesus at the top over Bourn.

                DeJesus gets on base more consistently and hits for a little more power.

                Bourn’s defense isn’t in the equation, and his speed would be better utilized lower in the order, in front of lesser hitters.

                1. Blublud

                  They basicly have the same OBP, .348 to .350, bourn slightly higher BA and they both hit 9 homeruns. How does equate to Dejesus getting on base more ane having more power.

                  1. Drew7

                    Career averages:
                    DeJesus – .281/.355/.419
                    Bourn – .272/.339/.365

      3. Voice of reason

        You are saying that dejesus is better than bourn?

        Please don’t tell me that is what you’re saying!

  16. Die hard

    Cubs opening day lineup could have Castro at 3B and Baez at SS

    1. TWC

      Yeah, and it’s only slightly less likely that I’ll be starting at CF.

    2. brickhouse

      There is a 0% chance that Castro is at 3b in 2013 – Baez will be in high A baseball in Daytona – not close to Wrigley

    3. Carew

      wow…Baez isn’t even out of high A yet, and if any of them move, it wouldn’t be Castro

      1. Die hard

        See bleedcubbieblue site Jan 7 may change mind

        1. Carew

          It doesn’t

    4. Blublud

      The rooftop owners have a better chance of getting 83% of the Cubs next TV deal then Baez starting at short to start the year, and I’m one of the people who think Baez is closer to the majors then people think.

  17. mudge

    They could trade two pitchers at the deadline and still have a much better staff than what they finished with last year. Guessing 74 wins with this team, hoping for .500.

  18. Mick

    How are people still rating Lindor higher than Baez? Doesn’t offense always trump defense especially when the defense is so close? If Baez was drafted 1 spot ahead of Lindor would people still rank him behind Lindor?

  19. North Side Irish

    John Sickels published his report about Junior Lake today. Nothing new to Cubs fans…lots of tools, zero consistency. Sickels grades him as a C+.

  20. North Side Irish

    Jeff Baker signs a minor league deal with the Rangers. I would have been OK with the Cubs getting him back on a minor league deal…definitely a useful guy.

  21. @cubsfantroy

    I guess I just don’t see it. Everyone is so big on Hairston, but to me he isn’t going to help that much. Yeah, he hit 20 HRs last year, but I don’t see him doing that again. He has only averaged just over 9 for his career. I guess I just don’t have the optimism others have over a journeyman outfielder who has been a little better than OK his whole career.

    1. Kyle

      I don’t think Hairston moves the needle all that much. Maybe half a win or a win over Campana, and a little less downside because now you have a guy who can truly fill in as an at-least-replacement filler if there’s an injury.

      Pitching is the reason the Cubs won’t be as bad as last year. The offense is better, but only by default, because it is still pretty bad.

    2. mudge

      There’s just no reining in the Hairston hysteria.

  22. Njriv

    That lip reading article, reminded me of this video, check it out, it’s worth some laughs.

  23. Josh

    Brett so you’re saying there’s a chance

  24. cheryl

    Interesting thoughts about the cubs coaching staff by Crazyhorse. Wonder how they’ll be looked at after this year, Sveum seemed to overdo it a bit this last season with sticking with certain players no matter what. That may be a false perception on my part but this year with some of the changes that Theo and Company made the Cubs should be better. And that should give us a better idea of how good the coaching staff and the manager are. But imo I think the biggest improvement will be with some of the players in the minors

  25. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    This team could coach itself…

    CF DeJesus (L) / Sappelt
    RF Schierholtz (L) / Valbuena (at 3B)
    SS Castro
    1B Rizzo (L)
    LF Soriano
    3B Stewart (L) / Hairston (in RF)
    C Castillo (100 games) / Navarro (60 games)
    2B Barney

    BN Lake, Rohan, Gonzalez, Lillibridge, etc…