What if the Cubs had kept star players from the 2020 season?

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Kris Bryant / Chicago Cubs
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Cubs: They don’t miss the stars as much as you might think

Add it all up and the Cubs are actually 2.0 WAR ahead of where they would have been had Hoyer kept the band together. Projected over the season and you’re looking at something like five additional wins. This must inevitably come with an El car full of caveats. No one knows how the ex-Cubs would have performed if they had stayed  at Addison and Clark, and the opportunity cost of foregoing the replacements could have been different as well.

It’s unlikely the Cubs’ front office forecast the offensive disappearances of Baez and Bryant, though Hoyer & Co. certainly have information about these players that we lack. It didn’t take a genius to see that Baez’ whiffly approach might bring his numbers crashing to Earth, but as noted above, that isn’t what happened: he’s failing for other reasons.

Maybe the biggest caveat applies to Yu Darvish, who is averaging better than six innings per start with an ERA a half run better than the MLB average. The presence of that kind of starting consistency would have alleviated pressure on the bullpen, probably leading to better run suppression overall.

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The Cubs and their fans certainly miss the players that Darvish, Rizzo, Baez, and Bryant were. But the team’s roster problems are sufficiently grave that the current version of these players would not have appreciably altered the team’s trajectory. For a team that’s currently 17 games under .500. those five or so wins just aren’t worth much.