Photo credit: (Chicago Sun-Times)
And guess what? We're doing it again! Wow, neat.
Anyway, let's get to it, and go Cubs.
Addison Russell Home Runs: 15.5
Matt (@TheBlogfines): OVER. Addison hit 13 homers in 142 games as a rookie, and hit eight homers in 70 second-half games (he also had a 70-point slugging percentage increase in the second half). This spring, he hit six homers, and showed notable power to center field and right field. He's driving the ball with authority to all fields and is getting more comfortable with the leg kick he added last year. He also told this to Fangraphs' Eno Sarris (in a great read) a few weeks ago:
"He’s not worried about losing power — 'The body feels good. My power is still there, I’m 15 pounds lighter and I’m seeing the ball well and the ball is coming off the bat two times harder.'"Justin (@CubsFella): OVER. Russell looks stronger and is driving the ball more with his new leg kick, leading the team with six homers this spring.
Anthony Rizzo Batting Average: .280
Matt: UNDER. I'll say just a tad under, in the .274-.279 range. He hit .278 last year. and saw a BABIP drop of to .311 to .289 from 2014 to 2015, with some of that probably having to do with the shifts teams put on Rizzo. His OBP will be .370+ again, which is all that matters anyway.
Justin: OVER. Probably just by a little bit, but I expect Rizzo to continue to hit well overall.
Anthony Rizzo Home Runs: 30.5
Matt: OVER. He hit 32 in 2014, 31 in 2015, he's in the prime of his career at 26... why shouldn't I expect him to do this?
Justin: UNDER. Again, probably just by a tad. I’ll say upper 20s in homers.
Anthony Rizzo RBI: 99.5
Matt: OVER. I think he's going to hit 31+ homers, have a .500+ slugging percentage, and he's going to bat behind three high on-base players (usually from the group of Fowler, Heyward, Zobrist, and Bryant). This is the formula to drive in 100 runs.
Justin: OVER. This team is loaded with high OBP guys and Maddon has said Rizzo will bat cleanup, presenting lots of RBI opportunities.
Ben Zobrist Batting Average: .270
Matt: OVER. The last three years: .276, .272, .275. Additionally, he was hurt in the first half last season, and hit .288 in the second half.
Justin: UNDER. Zobrist is a career .265 hitter. I expect he will stay consistent and hover right around .270, but maybe just under.
Jason Heyward Batting Average: .275
Matt: OVER. He hit .293 last year, but his .329 BABIP would also say it was a fairly fortunate .293. But I'd still guess that he won't have a drop-off of 19+ points in the average.
Justin: OVER. Heyward is just entering his prime, and hit .293 last year with a better than ever contact rate.
Jason Heyward Home Runs: 15.5
Matt: OVER. This is the most confident "over" I have. Which means it's probably the most likely to go wrong.
Justin: OVER. There are signs Heyward is trying to hit with more power and pull the ball more this spring. He hit 27 homers in 2012, and while I wouldn't predict that number, I think he can get into the 20s again.
Jason Heyward RBI: 69.5
Matt: OVER. He'll have a .340+ on-base guy ahead of him when batting second, and I'd guess he may move down to fifth or so for some games against left-handed pitching. In that case he'd be behind four high on-base guys. Add in what I think will be an increase in power, and driving in 70 runs seems pretty likely.
Justin: OVER. Again, RBI are mostly a team stat, and the Cubs are going to score plenty of runs.
Matt: UNDER. Bryant this spring has talked about a big focus being on how many pitches he swung through in the zone last year, and is looking to make more contact on such pitches. But, his swing is a pure power swing and that's not going to change too much. He's also extremely patient, and while that's going to help his on-base percentage, it's also going to result in a lot of strikeouts.
And here's the big one: Bryant had a .378 BABIP last year, which was fifth in the majors. He hits the ball hard, he beats a lot of grounders out, etc. But, it's really tough to sustain a BABIP like that, and expect it to drop 25+ points this year, which will then hurt his batting average. I'll say .265.
Justin: OVER. I expect him to keep getting better and better. I’ll be shocked if the batting average doesn't rise.
Kris Bryant Home Runs: 32.5
Matt: UNDER. Hitting 33 homers -- which would be seven more than he hit last year -- is really hard. He'll do it eventually, but in his sophomore season, I'll say 30.
Justin: UNDER. I’ll say 30 homers for Bryant this year. His uppercut swing is less dramatic and he is trying to make more contact. The power will stay just fine, but maybe a few more doubles, and a few less homers with the more level swing.
Kris Bryant RBI: 105.5
Matt: UNDER. Lower this number to 99.5 like it was for Rizzo, and I take the over. Only eight hitters drove in at least 106 runs last year.
Justin: OVER. Bryant will bat behind a lot of high OBP guys; he is going to drive in a lot of runs.
Kyle Schwarber Home Runs : 25.5
Matt: OVER. Honestly, this over/under is lower than I expected by a couple homers, especially with all the hype from the playoffs. The ZiPS projection system has Schwarber hitting 32, even. I'm assuming some of it has to do with the question of playing time, but he's the primary left fielder (vs righties, at least) and it sounds like he's going to start at catcher for a lot of Jason Hammel starts.
Justin: UNDER. Eventually Schwarber is going to hit a lot of home runs, but I’ll say the homer rate drops just a little in his sophomore season. He also might not play a ton against lefties because of how deep the Cubs are. I’ll say low 20s for HRs.
Kyle Schwarber RBI: 80.5
Matt: OVER. Around 30 homers and batting behind two .370+ OBP guys in Bryant and Rizzo? Yeah, he should top that RBI mark.
Justin: UNDER. Again not by much, but the fewer ABs thanks to extra catcher rest and sitting against lefties, might keep him in the 70s range.
Jake Arrieta ERA: 2.59
Matt: OVER. Now, a stat where the "over" is a bad thing. I'll say 2.75, which is still fantastic.
Justin: OVER. I expect very good numbers but even with some iffy sequencing, you can have a higher ERA than this. I’ll say upper 2s.
Jake Arrieta Strikeouts: 225.5
Matt: UNDER. He struck out 236 last year in 229 innings. However, he had literally the greatest second half of all-time, and he's not going to throw 229 innings again. The Cubs have made it clear they want to go easier on Arrieta after he ran out of gas last October. So, I wouldn't take the over on 200 here, even.
Justin: UNDER. Cubs will be careful with Arrieta’s workload this year; not sure he'll have the innings to get this high again. I’ll say just under.
Jake Arrieta Wins: 16.5
Matt: OVER. The Cubs are the best team in baseball on paper and have an amazing lineup, Arrieta is the team's ace... yeah, I think he wins 17+ games.
Justin: OVER. Wins are a team stat and this team will win a lot of games. Arrieta should give them a chance in most.
John Lackey Wins: 12
Matt: OVER. The Cubs are the best team in baseball on paper and have an amazing lineup, Lackey is very good... yeah, I think he wins 13+ games.
Justin: OVER. Lackey will give this potent offense plenty of opportunities to win.
Jon Lester Wins: 13.5
Matt: OVER. The Cubs are the best team in baseball on paper and have an amazing lineup, Lester is a second ace on this team... yeah, I think he wins 14+ games. I HATE PITCHER WINS.
Justin: OVER. See wins description under Arrieta and Lackey.
Jon Lester ERA: 3.20
Matt: UNDER. I actually think Lester may be better than Arrieta this year, and that's not a knock on Arrieta. Lester had a 2.90 FIP last year, and remember he came out of the gate with a dead arm last spring. He had a brutal 6.23 ERA in April. Well, this spring, he looked like Jon Lester (especially with his cutter), and I think we see a great, steady year from the veteran lefty.
Justin: UNDER. Lester had a sub-3 FIP last year and has been very consistent for many years. I’ll say he gets luckier than last year and the ERA gets a little better.
Jon Lester Strikeouts: 199.5
Matt: UNDER. 205 innings last year, and 200+ innings each of the last four years. That's quite a recent workload, and as I said with Arrieta, I think the Cubs go at least a tad easier on the horses this year. It especially helps that they have four former starting pitchers in the bullpen, and currently have eight relievers. So, I think that will bring his strikeout totals down a little bit, as they're a volume stat. He'll strike batters out at a good enough rate to reach this number, he just may not get the innings to do it.
Justin: OVER. Lester is one Cubs pitcher I think will match the same amount of innings as last year, and his K rate has been very good the past couple of seasons.
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