Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

rizzo bryantIf you’re champing at the bit in anticipation for the 2016 season, which is approximately 141 days away, then this post is for you.

Here is a look at the very early Steamer600 projections, via Fangraphs. These are based on what a player’s projected stats would look like if they played a full season (600 plate appearances) in 2016.

The highlights:

  • Kris Bryant projects to be the most valuable Cubs player, following up his stellar rookie campaign with a 5.1 WAR that would make any talk of a sophomore slump obsolete. Bryant also projects to lead the team in strikeouts (170), but a 28.3 percent strikeout rate would be a slight improvement from the 30.6 K% he posted in 2015.

  • Jake Arrieta projects to be the Cubs’ best pitcher, with a 5.0 WAR that would go a long way toward proving his 2015 Cy Young caliber season was no fluke. Steamer600, which puts projects starting pitcher stats over 200 innings, pegs Arrieta to go 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA and 2.93 FIP.
  • Jon Lester figures to right there at the front of the rotation with Arrieta. Projections have Lester with a 4.5 WAR in his second year of his $155 million dollar deal.
  • Anthony Rizzo is projected to lead the team in 12 different categories, including home runs (30), runs (83), runs batted in (88) and walks (67). Unfortunately, he is also projected to lead the team with 13 HBP, too. Rizzo’s projected 4.6 WAR ranks just behind Bryant.

  • Here’s a surprise. Both Javier Baez and Addison Russell project to post a 2.5 WAR in 600 plate appearances. Baez projects to be more of an offensive contributor than Russell with 28 homers, 78 RBIs, 15 steals and a 105 wRC+. Russell does project to hit more doubles (30) and draw more walks (44) and strikeout fewer times (143) than Baez.
  • The big surprise on the pitching staff is Kyle Hendricks’ projected 3.5 WAR over 200 innings. Offensively, the biggest surprise is the drop-off in Chris Coghlan, who projects to post a 1.0 WAR after being a 3.3-WAR player last season and a 2.4-WAR player in 2014.

There are some eye-opening projections across the board including what Steamer600 has in store for the projected starting corner outfield of Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber, possible rookie call-ups of Albert Almora, Willson Contreras and Pierce Johnson, and a potential bounce-back year from Starlin Castro.

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