Chicago Cubs: The starting catcher isn’t getting much love
As he turns 28 this year, I believe that Willson Contreras is in a great position to have a big year. It seemed like he was really on the verge of breaking out last year, but injuries again interrupted his 2019 campaign, and he just wasn’t able to put together that banner year we’ve been waiting for. When he did play, he was great, posting a career-high .888 OPS.
If he stays on the field, I think Contreras will play well enough to get some MVP votes this year. This is why I was a little disappointed at the traditional numbers projected for the backstop: 19 home runs (after 24 in 105 games in 2019), 65 RBIs, and a .254 batting average, good for just a 2.4 WAR. The OPS+, which was 125 last year, was all the way down to 106 for 2020.
The article didn’t offer much of an explanation, other than at one point it said that Contreras and Victor Caratini form “a more-than-adequate combination” behind the plate. Perhaps they felt that his weaker second-half performance – a .756 OPS in the 28 games he did manage to get into – warranted the regression after a .937 OPS in 77 first-half games. Maybe they also felt that his weak second half in 2018 shows that he can’t sustain a steady pace over a full season.
Still, I think these projections are sleeping a little on Contreras. Hopefully, with the support of the usual Cubs’ cast on offense, Contreras will take on a more significant role in the lineup and breeze past these projected numbers. The guess here is that he will.