saying there's a chanceIt ain’t just for Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, and Rick Renteria anymore …

FanGraphs has released its league-wide ZiPS-related projection goodness, and you can see playoff odds here and team-by-team WAR breakdowns at each position here. They are fun reads. Among the interesting bits:

  • The Cubs have a 2.4% playoff chance, which is to say that, in about one out of every 40 seasons, you’d expect a team like the Cubs looks on paper to make the playoffs. It could happen!
  • … but not winning the World Series, apparently. Of accomplishing that, ZiPS gives the Cubs a nice, round 0.0% chance.
  • The Cubs are projected to win 71.0 games, fewer than every other team in baseball besides the Astros.
  • Most likely to make the playoffs? The Dodgers, at 80.9%. The Cardinals, naturally, are second at 74.6%.
  • Interestingly, ZiPS really doesn’t care for the Reds this year, giving them a 21.4% chance at the playoffs, less than eight other teams in the NL, including the Pirates (42.6%), Diamondbacks (27.1%), and Padres (24.7%).
  • In terms of positional WAR, the Cubs project to be above average at first base and … nowhere else. I’d argue that catcher should probably project to be a bit above average (ZiPS has it as just average), and I could see the Cubs’ bullpen winding up very good (even if I understand not projecting it that way). Otherwise. I’m not sure I can argue with too much of it.
  • Cerambam

    Okay, so I understand that there’s about a snowballs chance in hell the cubs win the World Series, but it bothers me so much when projections of any kind give a 0.0% chance of something happening. I am POSITIVE there is greater than a 0% chance. The cubs are a major league team playing in the MLB this year – this alone means there is A chance.

    Now, I understand the purpose is to highlight the relative %chance of this occurring, but if youre going to round my playoff chances down to decimals, at least put a .1% chance the cubs (or any team with the lowest odds) win the World Series.

    Again, this is it just a pet peeve .

    • Kyle

      I imagine it’s a rounding issue. If they went out a few more decimal places, ZIPS would probably have the Cubs above 0.000%.

    • MichaelD

      If we expect that that 2.4% chance is mostly as a wild card and that the playoffs are a coin flip, then that would lead to a .15% chance of winning the world series. However, it takes a pretty big of a penalty for the wild card teams, for the Cubs to end up rounding to 0.0 as opposed to 0.1. Basically it would require the Cubs to have only a 1 in 50 chance of winning the World Series if they actually made the playoff. I have to think their chances would be better than that if they did somehow make the playoffs.

      • Brocktoon

        Playoffs aren’t a true coin flip, it’s iust that short series can allow lesser teams to win quite often. If a cubs playoff team wins their respective series 37.9% of the time(while assuming a wild card playoff. Then they win the WS .049% of the time rounding down to 0.0%

        • DocPeterWimsey

          And yet the team that played better in September wins 75% of the time in the opening round!

    • BWA

      Its just a statistical rounding thing. You go to enough decimal places and they will have a chance.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Facepalm. The batshit crazy delusion of some Cub fans on the other side of the extreme bothers me just as much. Hence where this hideous tag of the Luvable Losers derives.

      • mjhurdle

        i think there is a 0% chance you understood the original poster’s point.

        • Cerambam


  • Jason Powers

    Well, we attended ‘playoffs’ in
    1918, 29, 32, 35, 38, 45….84, 89, 98, 2003, 07, 08

    12/105 = 11.4%

    And the Cardinals have won 11 WS versus Cubs playoff attendance. Sigh.

    • Seth

      You know I was having a lovely night, steaks and a nice IPA, and you had to go and crap on it.

  • MattM

    I’m on my phone and haven’t gone to the link, but if I read right what you…ZIPS doesn’t think Starling Castro turns it around?

    If he hits 280 and slugs within 30 points of 2012 he has to be above average right?

    • Cizzle

      They have him at 2.3 WAR for 2014 v. -0.1 for 2013, so that’s a pretty big bounce, but not equal to 2011 or 2012.

  • Jason P

    Not related to ZIPS, but I just got my BA prospect handbook and there are a few tidbits I found interesting:

    -“It’s a very top-heavy system that drops off in talent quickly…”

    -Edwards stuff was at its best late in the season

    -Hannemann might have a 20-grade arm, but otherwise they’re high on him.

    -They rank Almora lower than most (Matt Eddy actually left Almora off his top 50!) but you wouldn’t know it by their analysis, which was pretty standard for him. Above-average hit tool, average to slightly above average power, average speed at best but very good range anyway and a plus arm, and off the charts makeup.

    -Junior Lake would have been the 11th best prospect in the system between Vizcaino and Hendricks.

    • 5RunHomerun

      I was wondering. Do they give an explanation of how the talent drops off or is it just something they say?

      • Jason P

        That line’s from their farm system rankings. The rest of the sentence is “but championship teams are built on star power”.

        Player’s who grade out as a “50” on the 20-80 scouting scale project as average regulars. The Cubs have 13 players who grade out as 55 or better (essentially, above average starters) which is actually more than their top rated system (Pirates) has (11), so I’m not entirely sure what they’re talking about.

        • Funn Dave

          Farms have many prospect. They’re saying that, in their opinion, for example, the Cubs’ lower-tier prospects may not be as good as some other teams’ lower-tier prospects. Or, in a ridiculous, hypothetical example that speaks more to your last post, say that all of our prospects that don’t grade out at 55 or better are absolute shit, and the Pirates don’t have a single player that ranks below 50. I can’t speak to the validity of their point, but it definitely seems to me like at least our top 25 or so comprise a more than solid list.. Sorry for rambling; there’s a slight chance that I may not be entirely sober.

      • Luke

        There is a dropoff, but keep in mind that the dropoff is from one of the most elite collection of hitting talents in all of the minors.

        The Cubs have a sizable group in the next tier down, and then a lot of potential low in the system coming off the last two drafts. Offensively, they were solid at every level of the organization last year (except Iowa). Pitching was weak in Kane County most of the year, but strong in Tennessee and exceptional in Daytona. Boise was a little mixed, but with some very high upside.

        I’m not worried. The Cubs are not a bad farm system with four great prospects. They are an above average farm system with four great prospects, and the overall trend line is still point up. As some of those prospects graduate they will fall down the rankings some, but the talent pipeline is in good shape for the foreseeable future.

        • Jason P

          Well, of course there’s a drop off, but I think the Cubs 5-20th best prospects compare favorably to any system in baseball.

          • ssckelley

            I agree and I wish BA would have explained that statement better. I felt the biggest strength of the Cubs farm system is how deep it is.

  • Mike Taylor

    We answer a lot of questions this year:
    #1. Mike Olt 3B outcome
    #2. Which players in Jeff Samardzija trade
    #3. Vizcaino health/effectiveness
    #4. Junior Lake league adjustment
    #5. Castro / Rizzo (BABIP) bounce back
    #6. Bullpen construction effectiveness
    #7. Baez / Alcantara middle infield
    #8. Russell gets days off!
    #9. Contract extensions / options exercised

    • ssckelley

      #5 I would add the bounce back at 2nd base whether that ends up being Barney or Bonifacio.

    • josh ruiter

      I think #5 is the key cog in the wheel. I don’t have a lot invested in the rotation for this season, vittersstartinglf, when we are truly in our competitive window, 2016 and beyond (I think we will push for a playoff spot in 2015, but it will be that first leap to being relevant again, and not a team ready to win yet) we won’t be banking on Jackson, Hammel, etc. in the rotation. Maybe T. Wood and Shark will be long haul guys, but even that I sort of doubt. But I would bet the rotation is the last part of turnover that we will see take place. Not unlike Theo’s pattern in Boston, bringing in a few ringers via trade once the team was where he wanted it, getting Beckett and Schilling and Lowe.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yes Castro & Rizzo bouncing back is important but Rizzo isn’t really a concern. He had a good season but because his BA was low people think it was bad. He will be fine the question is if Castro returns to the 200 hit Castro.

        • ssckelley

          Goat, I am not too concerned about Rizzo’s batting average but I think a .742 OPS is pretty weak for a first baseman. What I am looking for in a “bounce back” season from Rizzo is a +.800 OPS like he had in 2012.

          • MichiganGoat

            He’ll be fine the deflated OPS is directly related to his low BABIP. A few more of those become hits and doubles his OPS gets above .800 easily.

            • C. Steadman

              especially since his walk rate and ISO increased from 2012 which points to the low OPS as a result of his low BA/BABIP

            • ssckelley

              So you are saying the bounce back season from Rizzo is highly likely. His walk rate was pretty good and I do not have a problem with 127 SO in 690 PA for a power hitter. So if his BABIP comes up to a decent level Rizzo may be in for a good year at the plate.

              But it will take more than just luck, a big reason why Rizzo’s BABIP was so low was because he was not making good contact. All to often did we see weak grounders to the right side of the diamond, those rarely will go through for hits no matter where he hits them. I am hoping Rizzo will get “good wood” on the ball, squaring it up better that way when he does hit grounders they are hit sharply enough to have a chance to get through the infield. Obviously if he squares the ball on the bat better the power numbers will increase which will result in not only his BABIP going up but slugging, OBP, and ultimately OPS.

              • MichiganGoat

                Yeah not worried about Rizzo, I don’t have data on where his outs went but I’ve noticed that often when we use the eyeball/”I remember” evidence we miss the reality of what happened. Does anyone have that data on where/what Rizzo’s outs were?

                • C. Steadman

                  fangraphs list Rizzo’s GB% down from last year while LD% was also down…more lazy flyouts then is what im guessing?

                  • ssckelley

                    He had plenty of those as well. When Rizzo makes good contact the ball jumps off his bat. He makes plenty of contact, obviously the numbers shows it just not enough good contact. I remember watching the games and seeing a lot of movement in the batters box and it seemed like he was tinkering with his stance almost daily. This is where I hope the new coaching staff can make a difference with these young hitters. Perhaps last season he was hearing a mixed message on what he should or should not be doing.

                    If I was a coach I would be excited about having a guy like Rizzo, half the battle is putting the bat on the ball. The mistakes he makes are easily correctable, actually so are Castro’s. With the huge strides the Cubs made in the bullpen I think there is a good chance the Cubs will be better than what everybody thinks.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Most (if not all) of the difference between 2012 Rizzo and 2013 Rizzo is well within expected multinomial fluctuation. For example, there is about a 12% chance of a guy showing Rizzo’s difference in LDs between 2012 and 2013 given an invariant LD rate of about 21.5%. The overall distributions in LD, GB, FB and PU are not significantly different between the two years (about one player in 8 would should this much variation or more).

                • CubFan Paul

                  “Does anyone have that data on where/what Rizzo’s outs were?”

                  Rizzo was actively trying to hit certain pitches to different parts of the field/an all field approach: loft away pitches into LF for singles/doubles & hammer inside pitches out on to Sheffield.

                  The results weren’t good (the .258 batting average of balls in play), a lot of pop ups caught and groundballs & strikeouts from the inside pitches. BUT the progress was there at seasons end and it should become more natural this season, which will naturally raise his BA & babip. So as you said, No worries.

                  • C. Steadman

                    exactly! Rizzo should and probably will be fine, i do like that he’s in the lineup against Jokisch…rizzo could use some fine tuning against lefties

                    • CubFan Paul

                      I like that we have more lefties in camp, period.

                      The past few years, the Cubs have sucked *hard* against lefties and pitchers they’ve never seen before, as if advanced scouting doesn’t exist.

                      & dear God don’t let that new pitcher to them be a lefty…

                    • C. Steadman

                      haha Jokisch might throw another no hitter today then…eh probably not since Ruggiano is batting 2nd

              • hansman

                “I do not have a problem with 127 SO in 690 PA for a power hitter”

                You shouldn’t have a problem with an 18% K rate for most hitters (outside of a Tony Campana). That’s a tick below league average.

      • ssckelley

        I agree, even the best starting pitchers will not win games when the team is unable to score runs. Castro and Rizzo are a huge part of the offense and if they bounce back to the production they had in 2012 the Cubs will be decent this season.

  • VittersStartingLF

    I think success of season will depend on SP. Will Arrieta and Hammel be healthy and productive? Will Jackson bounce back? Will Wood repeat his success? If Shark sticks around, will he improve? I believe pen will be stronger and I actually believe our offense will surprise, between some of the kids coming up and some bounce back years. So to me, winning closer to 80 games will depend on the rotation.

    • Cheese Chad

      Keep in mind some of those guys doing well means trading them at midseason so 80 wins is less likely because the people we bring up probably won’t be as good right away.

      • VittersStartingLF

        I agree Chad. However it will be nice after the trades to see what Hendricks, Alcantara, Baez etc. can do. In past years after the sell off, we didn’t have anyone decent to call up. This year we should.

  • Cheese Chad

    According to zips the mets should just release all their relievers and sign all the free agent relievers. They’d add about 2 wins to their season.

  • chrisminelli

    So if the Cubs have a 0.00% chance of winning the World Series, and I put $1.00 on the Cubbies going all the way in 2014…. if they win the Series, does that mean I am mathematically entitled to all the dollars?

    • wv23


    • Mike

      …in the history of the world.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I think we have potential to win more then 71 games, just with the new BP alone, and it’s not silly to say the 1st half will determine the 2nd. As if we flip a lot of players..well 72 games then.

  • Blackhawks1963

    65-97 sounds right for 2014. The future is looking very bright but 2014 is going to be painful I’m afraid. The lineup is going to struggle to score runs big time. We start the season with a wretched outfield situation and fat question marks also at 3rd and 2nd. The starting rotation is also worrisome from my angle.

  • aaronb

    Nice picture choice Ace.

    • waittilthisyear

      so you’re telling me there’s a chance

  • Funn Dave

    Hey Brett, while you’re in Mesa, could you go ahead and sneak in a video camera and set up a live stream like straight to my computer or something? kthxbye

  • brainiac

    “the plan” – baseball in chicago is canceled until further notice

    • Chad

      Original, haven’t seen that one on here about 2,000 times already.

      • Fishin Phil

        Mostly from the same childish poster.

        • brainiac

          thanks phil, yeah let’s at least give credit for this one where it’s due!

        • MichiganGoat

          Yeah the “it’s” comments are the same stupid little unoriginal and not humorous shtick and it was frustrating then, which turned into annoying, and is now just useless and childish. It’s kind of sad to see it grasping for further attention.

          • brainiac

            just for the record, i prognosticated every single move the team would make. part of my work is examining how industries operate, and this team is taking a very conventional “layoff” austerity plan and applying it in creative ways to sports.

            you’d think someone from michigan would have a stronger vested interest in labor protections and quality development. but there are trees to climb.

            • bbmoney

              Just for the record, no one cares about you talking yourself up.

              • MichiganGoat


            • MichiganGoat

              And there you have it everyone a Brain that want you to believe it actually uses brains but has contributed little but blah blah blah “plan is dumb” since it showed up here and is now trying to rewrite his story because nobody care about his useless dissecting voice. Instead he returns to stupid little attacks about goats climbing trees because he needs attention. “Keep trying keep failing brains”- I’m coining that phrase. Come on BN let’s return to actually intellectual discussion so these useless complaints will see they have no place here.

              • brainiac

                lol, you guys are the best. i’ve been missing you goat.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Well don’t get use to it, I just thought everyone needed to see bullshit labeled as bullshit. No further need to reply but I’m sure I’ll call our your bulkshit in a couple weeks. It’s keeps the brains actually using brains.

                • Jon

                  lol, keep giving them hell brains!

                  • MichiganGoat

                    Ah the only fanbase he will ever have, that’s sweet.

                    • brainiac

                      i just enjoy the arguing. in the end we all want the same goal, which is why i like you. some of you guys are just super gullible.

                    • Jon

                      Some of the stuff he posts, is out there, I admit it. But I admit it is funny to watch a grown man lose his shit over another dudes opinion.

                      The site is like a buffet, you could just pass on what you don’t like, right?

                    • brainiac

                      i see it as a roman vomitorium of baseball aspirations. it’s a uniquely talented group of evaluators who also happen to be very eccentric, and happen to be rooting for an absolutely absurd situation. best blog board in sports.

                    • Chad

                      If you just like to argue why don’t you do it somewhere else. Most of us like to discuss the cubs. Arguing is part of it, but if your goal is to just argue then you are the definition of a troll.

                    • brainiac

                      weak, Chad. i stay on message but i am a dedicated cubs fan. not ownership fan. not middle management fan. cubs fan. do you care about the players on your team?

                    • Chad

                      I do care about the players the cubs have. Not the ones they could have gotten or did not get. I care about the ones on the cubs major and minor league affiliates. Those players are only a part of the cubs team due to the management and ownership of the team. So I’m a cubs fan, not just of the players but of the whole organization. Are you also a fan of all former cubs players? I’m not. I have nothing against them but I cheer for the ones on the cubs team currently that can help them win. I disagree when you say you are a dedicated cubs fan, especially when you willing admit you are only here because you like to argue.

                    • C. Steadman

                      amen chad

            • Jason P

              “I prognosticated every single move the team would make”


            • Chad

              I wish that Ricketts would have hired you instead of Theo. Then in 5 years after signing old FA to stupid contracts with a reduced payroll and depleting an already thin farm system for a few trades for over the hill near FA players we could blame you for the dismality of the team after a few .500 seasons.

              • brainiac

                the important thing is that we’ve deferred winning indefinitely for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball, and branded it “winning”. we’re the charlie sheens of baseball.

                • OlderStyle

                  “charlie sheens of baseball”-haha.

              • Brocktoon

                I wish Zell sold to him instead of ricketts. Brainiac could probably support a higher payroll

  • Jr 25

    #2- who we get in Shark trade- before Opening Day! From the Jays-Stroman or Sanchez and pick 2 more from a group of Nolin, Norris, DeJong, Drabek or Hutchinson. If it was me I wouldn’t even try for the top 2 but id take Nolin, Norris, Hutchinson, and DeJong and catching prospect Jiminez for Shark and Barney (Jays have a hole at 2nd)

    • Chad

      If we threw in Russel maybe we could get Sanchez or Stroman.

      • Jr 25

        I agree if we threw in Russell maybe even throw in Schierholtz also!

    • Xruben31

      Tirado is their third best prospect IMO.

    • Brocktoon

      I’m not wild about getting only one of stroman or Sanchez, trading shark for a pu pu platter of mediocre and failed prospects would be a disaster

  • Funn Dave

    Well, thanks, Brett; now I can spend the rest of my day wallowing in misery 😛

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