Among my favorite offseason activities is perusing the release of Dan Szymborski’s annual ZiPS projections — for the Cubs, yes, but also for players the Cubs are (hopefully) targeting. Projections are just projections, of course, but they can still teach us a lot about what to expect from certain players in the coming year.
For example, last season, ZiPS projected Carlos Correa to slash .275/.354/.481 (124 OPS+) to hit 25 HRs, and to be worth a total of 4.7 WAR. At the end of the season, Correa had beaten his projected slash line by a fair amount — .291/.366/.467 (140 OPS+) — but came up just short in HRs (22) and WAR (4.4), in large part because his defense didn’t rate out quite as highly as the system projected.
Needless to say, those were pretty good projections! Nice job, Dan!
For free agents, the projections come with the player’s former team, so with the release of the Minnesota Twins ZiPS projections today, we get to see what Correa is projected to do in 2023!
And spoiler alert, it looks VERY good:
- .276/.355/.472 (130 OPS+)
- 28 doubles, 24 home runs
- 5.6 WAR
- 7.0 DEF (he was projected for 5.0 last year, but wound up at 2.0)
For reference, Correa’s defensive value in 2018 (17.3 DEF), 2019 (9.7 DEF), 2020 (5.6 DEF), and 2021 (14.9 DEF) were all really, really strong. So I tend to believe a rebound there is likely. Or better put, I’m guessing he wasn’t actually as bad as the metrics rated him last season. It seems the system agrees about the 28-year-old shortstop.
But let’s focus on the offense, because those are some lofty, exciting projections.
Among the Cubs qualified hitters last season, Carlos Correa’s projected 130 OPS+ would have been – by far – the best on the team. His 24 home runs would come up just behind Patrick Wisdom (25), his 28 doubles would be tied for second with Patrick Wisdom and behind Ian Happ (42), and his 5.6 WAR would beat the Cubs top position player, Nico Hoerner (4.0), and absolutely lap anyone on the pitching side (Justin Steele led with 2.6).
On top of that, if Correa were to hit his defensive projections next season, he’d have filed in behind only Nico Hoerner (14.4) and Yan Gomes (8.0).
Needless to say – not that this should be a surprise – Carlos Correa would be the Cubs best offensive player, third best defensive player, and most valuable player overall.
So … go sign him! The Cubs say they have plenty of money to spend …
(Note: Dansby Swanson’s projections are not yet out, but we’ll give him the same treatment when the Braves ZiPS projections are released. My guess? Defensively, Swanson might rank out at or near the top, offensively, he’ll be somewhere between Nico Hoerner (106 wRC+) and Ian Happ (120 wRC+) and his WAR will probably be projected as higher than anyone earned last year.)