Two of the Ten Biggest Projected Bounce-Backs in 2022 Are Chicago Cubs

I’ll say right up front the two things you’re already thinking, because I’m thinking them, too: (1) I’m not sure projection systems will capture all the context necessary to comment on whether David Bote and Jason Heyward are good bounce-back bets for 2022, and (2) even a huge statistical bounce-back could leave them well short of being useful players, given how far they’d fallen in 2022.

That’s my precursor to discussing this article, which notes the biggest projected bounce-backs in 2022 using the Steamer projections, and both Bote (4th) and Heyward (10th) project for huge bounce-backs from the depths of 2021:

Neither Bote nor Heyward come in for extended discussion in the article, which is not a huge surprise because they are not as interesting as guys like Alex Bregman or Cody Bellinger. But I thought I might give the Cubs duo a mention.

David Bote (64 wRC+ in 2021, projected for 94 in 2022)

If you don’t know the Bote story by now, you haven’t been around much: the metrics have all said for years that his quality of contact is much, much better than his results … and yet the results just keep not being there. We’ve worked on some theories as to why, but even that stuff kinda misses the bigger question for 2022: is he even going to be healthy?

Bote, who missed chunks of the year with injuries (the shoulder separation being the biggy), wound up having to have shoulder surgery after the season, and isn’t going to be ready for the start of the year. When he does come back, it’ll be an open question just how much of his old game he’ll still have, to say nothing of improvement. Bote isn’t old, but he’ll play most of next season at age 29, so it’s not as if you can necessarily count on continued development from here.

Before his shoulder injury, Bote was hitting just .201/.280/.340 (68 wRC+), albeit with at least some bad luck baked in. After the injury, he hit just .197/.273/.320 (60 wRC+). It was an awful season overall, and even if he does get a good bump from here, that could leave him far short of average.

There’s also going to be the issue of playing time when Bote is ready to go. Absent another injury, he may not get regular starts, which makes it all the more difficult to put up big numbers.

Overall, statistically, you’d bet on a big-ish bounce-back from Bote in 2022 only because of his atrocious numbers in 2021. I’d love to see his huge exit velo metrics translate to big production, but I’m just not sure it’s going to happen.

Jason Heyward (68 wRC+ in 2021, projected for 96 in 2022)

With continued platoon protection and limited starts, it isn’t that hard to see Heyward bouncing back to the projected level of production. After all, from 2018-2020, he actually posted a .261/.347/.419 (104 wRC+) slash line over 1259 plate appearances. Being a slightly below average hitter in 2022 is not completely out of the question.

… but boy was it rough in 2021. Unlike with Bote, you can’t even start to make an argument that Heyward didn’t “earn” his atrocious results, as pretty much everything was ugly. Walk rate cratered, strikeouts climbed, hard contact plummeted, soft contact exploded, groundball rate increased, and so on and so on. You might not expect him to be QUITE that bad in his age 32 season in 2022, but you also wouldn’t look at that total picture and immediately think “bounce-back candidate.”

As with Bote, I have questions on playing time, too. Even if the Cubs don’t add a sure-fire starter in the outfield from here, the Cubs are going to do a lot of mixing and matching that could limit Heyward’s ability to re-establish himself. And if Heyward isn’t surprisingly showing out (at least against righties) by late May, the calls for the Cubs to simply move on are going to become pretty strong. Historically, Heyward is not a hot starter, either.

So, that is all to say, I can see the numbers bouncing back for Heyward, like Bote, but that feels more due to the depths of his starting position, rather than confidence that he’ll be much better at the plate in 2022.

(Obligatory hopeful note: but *IF* the Cubs could get meaningful production from guys like Bote and Heyward in 2022, that’d go a long way toward pushing the team into surprise contention. They don’t need either guy to be a star, or even an everyday regular. Just a solid part-time contributor would be a big deal. Certainly a lot less than was hoped for from these guys once upon a time, but we can be realistic.)

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

more cubs news

Cubs Roster Moves: Swanson, Vazquez, Mastrobuoni, Crow-Armstrong

According to the Cubs' transactions page, we now know the corresponding move for infield prospect Luis Vazquez's impending call-up: it's a set of multiple moves, but he's kinda being swapped out for outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong. Weird. I know. The full...

Lukewarm Stove: Who Are the Sellers? Yankees Trying to Extend Soto, Eflin, Alonso, Martinez, More

MLB RUMORS — Even though we've already had one relatively big trade this season (Luis Arraez to the Padres) and even though the Cubs have made a couple of their own (acquiring Tyson Miller, dealing Richard Lovelady), I don't think...

MLBits: MLB Investigating David Fletcher, Giants Lose Jung-Hoo Lee for the Season, More

MLB Notes — Major League Baseball is reportedly investigating former Angels infielder—and current Braves' minor league player—David Fletcher regarding allegations that he placed illegal sports bets with the same bookie that former teammate Shohei Ohtani's interpreter Ippei Mizuhara placed bets...

The Cubs Have Signed YET ANOTHER Minor League Arm

Once again, because the Cubs have signed so many in-season pitcher deals, I have to start with the same intro: The Chicago Cubs are seriously going off on the minor league pitching signings here after the start of the season....

Cubs Farm Report | May 20, 2024: Tough Day for the Cubs Affiliates

Cubs Farm Report — It was a rough afternoon for the Cubs affiliates, who were swept in four games and scored a combined 10 runs. However, Ethan Roberts made his first appearance with Iowa since 2022 and tossed a scoreless...

Ever See a “2 RBI Walk” …?

I've seen versions of this play first hand ... back in my little league days. But even then, it was saved for our fastest player, and it usually involved him immediately stealing second base after a walk, when everyone's guard...

Cubs Set a Target Date for Dansby Swanson’s Return, Daniel Palencia Also On His Way

First, a quick update I kept out of the headline: Nico Hoerner is not in the Cubs lineup today, as he continues to deal with left hamstring tightness. The Cubs have now blown past the maximum IL backdate optimization, which...

Drew Smyly Reportedly Set for a Rehab Outing at South Bend

[ankin_law] Chicago Cubs lefty Drew Smyly has been out on the Injured List with a right hip impingement since April 23, but he's getting much closer to finally returning. After throwing multiple bullpens and facing live hitters, it looks like...

Site News! Welcome to Our New Official Legal Sponsor, Ankin Law!

My friends. It’s time for a big announcement. Something very important to us here at Bleacher Nation, and something we’ve never really been able to do before. We have had a lot of great partners over the years, but we’ve...

18 Years Ago Today, Michael Barrett Kindly Disagreed with A.J. Pierzynski

With the Cubs having lost three of four against the Pirates this weekend, and with the offense listing along and injuries continuing to mount, I would understand if you're not in the mood for "hey, today's an anniversary"-type post. BUT!...

Latest News

Atlanta Dream vs. Dallas Wings: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

A game after putting up 35 points in an 83-74 loss to the Sky, Arike Ogunbowale leads the Dallas Wings (1-1) on the road against the Atlanta Dream (1-1) on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The matchup tips off at 7:30...

Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

On Tuesday at 10:10 PM ET, Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers (32-17) take on Ketel Marte and the Arizona Diamondbacks (22-25) at Dodger Stadium.Keep reading to see how to watch the Los Angeles-Arizona matchup below.When is Dodgers vs....

Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves Series May 21-23: Odds, Starting Pitchers & Predictions

A three-game series between the Chicago Cubs and the visiting Atlanta Braves will start on Tuesday, May 21 at 7:40 PM ET.Cubs vs. Braves Series Info Braves @ Cubs Time: Tuesday, May 21 at 7:40 PM ET Cubs Starting Pitcher:...

Oakland Athletics vs. Colorado Rockies Series May 21-23: Odds, Starting Pitchers & Predictions

The Oakland Athletics are hosting the Colorado Rockies for a three-game series, with the first matchup getting underway at 9:40 PM ET on Tuesday, May 21.Athletics vs. Rockies Series Info Rockies @ Athletics Time: Tuesday, May 21 at 9:40 PM...

How to Watch Athletics vs. Rockies: Live Stream or on TV

Brent Rooker and the Oakland Athletics (19-30) host Ryan McMahon and the Colorado Rockies (15-31) on Tuesday, with first pitch at 9:40 PM ET.The article below will provide you with everything you need to watch Oakland play Colorado.When is Athletics...

How to Watch Astros vs. Angels: Live Stream or on TV

Kyle Tucker and the Houston Astros (21-27) host Taylor Ward and the Los Angeles Angels (19-29) on Tuesday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM ET.The article below will provide you with everything you need to know to watch Houston play...

How to Watch Blue Jays Games: Full 2024 Schedule, Live Stream and More

If you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan and looking to catch their games on TV, most of them can be found on Sportsnet but there are a few more options available too. Let’s break down the cable and streaming options...

Cubs Roster Moves: Swanson, Vazquez, Mastrobuoni, Crow-Armstrong

According to the Cubs' transactions page, we now know the corresponding move for infield prospect Luis Vazquez's impending call-up: it's a set of multiple moves, but he's kinda being swapped out for outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong. Weird. I know. The full...

Timberwolves vs. Mavericks Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets for Western Conference Finals Game 1 – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks square off to start the Western Conference Finals. The Timberwolves are favored by 4 points in the matchup, which will be broadcast on TNT at 8:30 PM ET. The point total is 206.5...

Celtics vs. Pacers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets for Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 – Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Boston Celtics are massive 10-point favorites heading into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden on Tuesday, beginning at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN. The matchup's point total is set at 222.Celtics...

more cubs news