It’s everyone’s (well, at least someone’s) favorite time of year, when seasonal projections start coming out. Fangraphs has dropped the ZiPS projections for both the White Sox and Cubs, and as you can guess, the difference in each team’s trajectory shows.
Now here is a quick explanation of how these projections are cooked up:
Basically, the formula is to look at the previous four seasons of a player, with more recent seasons getting more weight.
For the Cubs, this means that the fact that Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo all played hurt for a pretty sizable chunk of last season means their numbers will skew a little lower. But even with that, their projections call for WAR of 4.5 for Bryant, 4.3 for Rizzo and 3.8 for Baez.
They’re also pretty kind to Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. At least Happ’s bat.
On the mound, they’re projecting the pitching to be…okay. Basically, Yu Darvish will do studly things, Kyle Hendricks will keep frustrating hitters, Jose Quintana and Jon Lester will be okay for their roles, and there’s no expectation for the 5 slot. So Cub fans can expect to be awash in a sea of okayness. And they feel about the same regarding the Cubs bullpen as everyone else.
On the Sox side of the ledger, they absolutely love (and rightly so) the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal. They’re also sticking with Yoan Moncada, who has sparks flying out of computers with his roller coaster ride of a season.
Two warning flags for the Sox is the fact that Jose Abreu isn’t looking too hot, and Tim Anderson is not being expected to sustain his .399 BABIP that carried him to a Ralph Garr batting title.
Pitching projections are a little off on the Sox team projections page, since Dallas Keuchel isn’t on there – it published December 11, while Keuchel was still a free agent (for added fun, the Braves projections published after Keuchel signed, so he’s not there either). Plus, as they point out, it’s a little hard to get solid projections overall when Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning all had Tommy John surgery. But the projection is for a good year out of Lucas Giolito. Then after that, who knows.
Next week is PECOTA for each team. So that’ll be fun.