How do Steamer projections like the current Cubs roster?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Steamer Projections is one of many baseball outlets that predicts upcoming season performances. Like other outlets, they have developed their own methods of coming up with these projections. Using stats and trends for individual players, including age and performance, they come up with ways to spit out projected numbers. While obviously not a crystal ball, these kinds of projections can help set expectations for players or at the very least spark debates on how a player will perform.

The Chicago Cubs roster will change with more signings after the lockout ends…whenever that is, but Steamer has numbers out for the current players. Not only are performances projected, but the number of games they play in as well.

Steamer will probably sell some of these guys a tad short, but that is what can happen with these types of projections.

2022 Chicago Cubs projected top-10 players based on WAR

In terms of ranking who projects to be the best, WAR is one method to tell how each player will stack up in terms of their projected value. Here is how they rank in order of WAR (data available on FanGraphs).

  1. Marcus Stroman: 3.0 WAR – 4.10 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 158 K in 32 starts
  2. Ian Happ: 2.6 WAR – .240/.336/.458, 30 HR, 113 wRC+ in 147 games
  3. Nico Hoerner: 2.1 WAR – .278/.344/.391, 8 HR, 98 wRC+ in 131 games
  4. Willson Contreras: 2.1 WAR – .239/.334/.430, 19 HR, 105 wRC+ in 107 games
  5. Nick Madrigal: 2.1 WAR – .299/.346/.416, 6 HR, 104 wRC+ in 130 games
  6. Kyle Hendricks: 1.9 WAR – 4.67 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 140 K in 31 starts
  7. Wade Miley: 1.9 WAR – 4.42 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.44 WHIP, 129 K in 29 starts
  8. Adbert Alzolay: 1.7 WAR – 4.31 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 131 K in 127 innings
  9. Frank Schwindel: 1.4 WAR – .270/.318/.477, 27 HR, 109 wRC+ in 131 games
  10. Justin Steele: 1.2 WAR – 4.21 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 115 K in 114 innings

Steamer is not as kind to Cubs starters in terms of individual stats as some would want to see. This is likely due to a combination of down years in 2021 (i.e. Hendricks), age (i.e. Miley) and contact-based pitchers playing in front of a “meh” defense (i.e. Stroman). The projections for Hendricks are particularly blah, but being a guy who does not miss a ton of bats and is coming off a rough year, they are not surprising. That said, there is still plenty of reason to believe in Hendricks bouncing back.

It might surprise some to see Happ as the top contributor offensively, but in terms of power, it makes sense. Schwindel’s projections are not shabby either with 27 home runs and wRC+ in the triple digits. This is kind of surprising considering Schwindel broke out so late in his pro career, but to his credit, his performance in 2021 was very impressive and he can keep it up.

Chicago Cubs: Other key players and prospect projections

Alec Mills (4.78 ERA and 0.6 WAR) and Keegan Thompson (4.74 ERA and 0.4) are the other two pitchers projected to make starts.

Steamer seems to like Brad Wieck, as he is projected at a 3.92 ERA, 11.28 K/9 and 3.96 FIP. For a guy who has played so little, this is interesting to see. Rowan Wick is projected to be the saves leader with 29, coupled with a 4.05 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 64 innings. Manny Rodriguez and Codi Heuer are both projected at a FIP around 4.14-4.15 with at least 60 strikeouts.

In terms of other position players, both Patrick Wisdom and Rafael Ortega are projected at a 1.1 WAR. Wisdom is predicted to be second in home runs at 29, just one behind Happ. Jason Heyward is projected to play in 97 games and slash .246/.328/.400 with 11 home runs. At this point, I would absolutely take that from him. That money is never going to match his performance – so let’s quit hoping that’ll change. Yan Gomes is projected at a 0.7 WAR in 52 games and Clint Frazier a 0.1 WAR in 42 games.

There are several key prospects projected to get MLB playing time, including Brennen Davis (10 games), Nelson Velazquez (16 games), Alexander Vizcaino (24 games), Anderson Espinoza (10 games), Caleb Kilian (two games) and Brailyn Marquez (one game).

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As mentioned before, none of these projections are set in stone. Hopefully the Cubs pitching will be a bit better than they are projected to be. Defense and health will potentially impact that a lot.