Chicago Cubs: Finding value in the outfield
Starting with Kyle Schwarber, it was refreshing, to say the least in watching him have a great year last year. With all of the expectation of the latter, PECOTA was pretty solidly in favor of Schwarber. They projected him out at 28 HR, 76 RBI, .240/.353/.476, a .349 wOBA, 119 wRC+, and a 2.9 fWAR.
The home run and RBI totals are both exactly in the ballpark of where they should be expected. A counterargument to the RBI total, however, is that it feels too high almost. In his career, Schwarber has not once gone over 70 runs driven in during a season.
The average saw a bump, as well as the wOBA and wRC+ last season. It was a solid enough season for Schwarber to continue to progress. Seeing his PECOTA projections are increased in many areas gives us all hope that maybe, just maybe, he can continue to improve into the player we all hope.
Albert Almora is next. His STEAMER projections see a significant drop-off in almost all offensive categories. The power is expected an increase, but average and OBP are expected to drop. STEAMER has Almora at eight home runs, 43 RBI, .271/.313/.397, .307 wOBA, 91 wRC+, and a 1.1 WAR.
It is challenging to see Almora playing in 53 fewer games next season. While it could realistically drop, Almora is the best option the Cubs have in center field. Happ was a disaster at the plate in striking out a whopping 36.1 percent of the time. Despite the power in that stroke, Happ was barely over replacement level in terms of an offensive player.
It is strange to think the power could increase that much, especially in fewer games. However, it could still see a slight uptick. The wOBA at .307 seems conservative. Almora posted a .334 wOBA last season so it would make more sense to be in the .314-.317 range. Almora is who he is, a great defender, and fun for the team.
Finally, Jason Heyward. Steamer projects him at 12 home runs, 62 RBI, .268/.340/.406, .325 wOBA, 103 wRC+. They project him to finish at a 2.4 WAR. The main brunt of the numbers feels a little high, as Heyward has failed to hit at least twelve home runs since 2015. The slash line feels right on the money with Heyward. Last season he hit .270 so projecting .268 is easy going.
Heyward could certainly reach those numbers. Avoiding time on the DL is critical for the veteran outfielder wants to hit to those numbers once again. Continuing to turn it around heading into 2019 will be essential for both Heyward and the Cubs.