With Xavier Nady signing a one-year deal with the Cubs last week, the outfield picture for 2010 became a little clearer. Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome are the projected Opening Day starters … with Xavier Nady and Sam Fuld likely on the bench serving as Lou Piniella’s fourth and fifth options.
In order for the Cubs to compete in the division, one of the areas that must show improvement in Twenty-Ten is production from the outfield … the Opening Day outfield in 2009 totaled just 43 home runs and 80 doubles while scoring 204 runs.
How will Lou Piniella’s outfield perform this season? Here are the projections … Alfonso Soriano is one the keys to the Cubs season. If he can remain somewhat healthy and can out hit his defensive mistakes the Cubs will produce more runs. Soriano is one of the main reasons Jim Hendry hired Rudy Jaramillo. Adding arguably the best hitting coach in the game should have a positive effect on several players … especially Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto.
The recent addition of Xavier Nady could end up having an impact on Lou Piniella’s crew. To put it simply, when Nady is healthy he is a starting Major League outfielder, not a bench player.
Xavier Nady will begin the year in a limited role as well as serving as the platoon partner for Kosuke Fukudome. If Nady is healthy, he could push Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome … and should give Piniella an option if one of his three starters cannot get the job done.
Another player to keep an eye on is Jeff Baker. Most see Baker only in the mix at second base and as a backup to Aramis Ramirez … and he should receive time at both of those positions. Baker will also get reps in the outfield during Spring Training. The Cubs envision him in a super-utility role similar to the one Mark DeRosa filled in 2007 and 2008.
Baseball Prospectus released a beta version of their PECOTA projections last week. Along with Bill James and CHONE here is the projected production for the Cubs’ outfield, as well as the average of the three projections where available.
- ISO – Isolated Power (SLG-BA)
- BABIP – Batting Average on Balls in Play
- wOBA – Weighted On Base Average
If the Cubs’ starting outfield produces on the field the way they are projected, it will be another long season for Lou Piniella. The starting outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd are slated to produce just 212 runs with 50 home runs … just a slight improvement over 2009.
Keep in mind these projections are just that … projections. As Larry Bowa once said, there are not many games won in December and January.