Chicago Cubs: The three bears
Starting first with Rizzo, STEAMER projects him finishing with 30 HR, 95 RBI, .280/.384/.509 with a .378 wOBA, 139 wRC+, and a 4.2 fWAR. Last season, Rizzo saw the power drop a smidge, as he finished with 25 HR and 101 RBI. It was the fourth-straight season of 25/100 production for the big first baseman. The RBI total feels conservative, as he has eclipsed 100+ RBI for four consecutive years. It will surprise nobody if Rizzo does it again. Overall, however, the numbers feel right in line with what we’ve come to expect.
For Baez, the STEAMER projections expect him to fall back to earth in 2019. Baez made for a fun season for Cubs fans. He played in all but two games and registered career-highs in almost every category. STEAMER sees Javy finishing with 28 HR, 89 RBI, .268/.312/.486 with a .334 wOBA, and 109 wRC+, along with a 3.2 fWAR.
Baez hit a career-high 34 home runs and 111 RBI last season. The home run and RBI projections are not far off. However, it is difficult to see Baez dropping all the way down to a .268 batting average. STEAMER projects his fWAR to decline from the 5.3 in 2018 to a 3.2 next season. While Baez probably will not match the production he turned in last year, he is turning his production in the right direction, where he could once again shatter his expectations.
Last but not least, former NL MVP Kris Bryant. Bryant’s 2018 campaign was a rough one for sure. He appeared in just 102 games due to various injuries. A fear we shall not, however, as his STEAMER projections are back up to normal for the upcoming season. STEAMER projects Bryant at 29 HR, 88 RBI, .274/.382/.502 with a .378 wOBA, 138 wRC+, and a 5.7 fWAR.
After the drop-off in production last year, Bryant hopes to bounce back. The home run total is once again entirely in line with where he could finish. The RBI total is also outstanding, considering Bryant has eclipsed the century mark only one time in his young career. The average feels low to me, however. Bryant certainly struggled last year. However, his back-to-back seasons of .292 and .295 respectively feel more on par with where he is at.
If the infield can take care of these projections, the team should be a solid contender once again. By April, the Wrigley faithful will be singing “Boys Are Back In Town.” Let’s hope the big three can find that production.