The front office, Joe Maddon and Anthony Rizzo are on record stating the Cubs goal for next season is to win the National League Central and play in the post-season for the first time under Ricketts family ownership.
The Cubs finished last year with a 73-89 record, fifth in the division, but the young team was 28-27 over the last two months against teams playing for a spot in the post-season. Last season marked the first time since 2010 the Cubs did not lose at least 90 games.
Based on the Steamer Projections posted on FanGraphs, the Cubs could have its first winning record since the 2009 squad led by Lou Piniella ended the year with an 83-78 mark, the last time the franchise finished above .500.
FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan compiled the data from the Steamer projections and team depth charts and the Cubs record for 2015 ends up at 83-79, third place in the National League Central Division, four games behind the Cardinals and tied with the San Francisco Giants for the second wild card spot.
As FanGraphs pointed out, the projections will change as Opening Night approaches and the 25-man rosters become easier to predict. Free agents are still available and trades will still be made.
Projections are just that, projections and should not be viewed as anything more or less. Once again, it’s always interesting to look at possible outcomes for the upcoming year during a long off-season.
According to FanGraphs as the New Year approaches, here’s how the National League could shake out in 2015.
- St. Louis Cardinals – 87-75
- Pittsburgh Pirates – 86-76
- Chicago Cubs – 83-79
- Milwaukee Brewers – 77-85
- Cincinnati Reds – 75-87
- Washington Nationals – 87-75
- Miami Marlins – 81-81
- New York Mets – 79-83
- Atlanta Braves – 73-89
- Philadelphia Phillies – 69-93
- Los Angeles Dodgers – 91-71
- San Francisco Giants – 83-79
- San Diego Padres – 78-84
- Colorado Rockies – 78-84
- Arizona Diamondbacks – 74-88
According to Jeff Sullivan, the Cubs are “a team to dream on.” The Cubs are loaded with prospects and “big-league ready prospects.” Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta should lead the rotation and Kris Bryant will be a factor at some point during the season. And his possible impact is not figured into the projection, only the players currently on the 40-man roster.
While there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Cubs, there are reasons to be pessimistic as well. The Cubs outfield is “pretty weak right now,” Javier Baez “has bust potential” and there are questions behind Jon Lester in the rotation. Plus, Starlin Castro could revert back to his 2013 form and Miguel Montero has struggled at the plate “for a few years.”
The Steamer Projections point to a 13-10, 3.39/1.17/3.28 line for Jon Lester and a 10-9, 3.60/1.24/.348 season for Jake Arrieta while Jason Hammel (9-9, 3.86/1.24/3.76) and Kyle Hendricks (8-8, 4.15/1.29/4.10) being solid in the middle of the rotation.
Offensively, Anthony Rizzo (.861 OPS with 32 doubles, 31 home runs), Starlin Castro (.729 OPS with 32 doubles and 12 home runs) and Jorge Soler (.792 OPS with 29 doubles and 22 home runs) projections point to productive seasons at the plate.
- Pitching Staff Projections for the 2015 Chicago Cubs
- Position Player Projections for the 2015 Chicago Cubs
- FanGraphs – National League Team Projections