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kris bryant smileGet ready to go down the wormhole for your afternoon …

Each offseason, there are a range of player projections that emerge from a variety of sources based on a variety of methodologies. Baseball, being the can’t-predict-ball game that it is, won’t always live into the projections, but they’re a fun way to gauge expectations for the following season.

The first set of those projections – albeit in limited form – have been released. They are the Steamer projections from Jared Cross, Dash Davidson, and Peter Rosenbloom, and they’re now visible on all player pages over at FanGraphs.com. You can have some fun tooling around with various Cubs players and prospects today, but let me point out a few notable items:

  • Holy crap is Steamer optimistic on Kris Bryant next year: .265/.344/.489, with a .363 wOBA and a 130 wRC+. With average defense at third base, that would translate to a 4.0+ WAR. In his rookie season. And the sky would be the limit from there. Want.
  • Similarly, Jorge Soler fares well, at .271/.330/.470, .349 wOBA, 121 wRC+. Soler has upside beyond that, but if you could lock that line down right now for next year, I think you’d do it with a big smile.
  • Given their rough debuts, perhaps it’s unsurprising that Javier Baez (.231/.284/.426, .312 wOBA, 95 wRC+) and Arismendy Alcantara (.247/.296/.394, .304 wOBA, 90 wRC+) don’t project quite as nicely. With average or better defense at second base and center field, however, each of those performances would still be good enough to make Baez and Alcantara nearly average overall big leaguers. I guess that’s not too bad for a 22 and 23-year-old in their first full big league season.
  • Given that the breakouts were limited to one year, it’s probably unsurprising that Steamer takes a measured approach to Jake Arrieta’s and Anthony Rizzo’s projections. Arrieta is projected to see a dip in virtually all of his peripherals, leading to a projected ERA and FIP spike to 3.63 and 3.51, respectively. I’ll take the under. Similarly, Rizzo sees a dip in every peripheral, which nets to a dip from his .397 wOBA this year to .375 projected for next year (wRC+ from 153 to 138). You’d still probably take those numbers, but I’m content to dream to the upside.
  • Steamer projects huge regression for Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, and slight regression for James Shields, for what that’s worth.

All right. Have at it. Go forth and see what else there is to see.

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