Steamer’s 2019 Hitting Projections Show Javy Regressing, Bryant Bouncing Back

Hey, just because it’s merely a week into the offseason doesn’t mean there aren’t projections available for 2019. Thank you to Steamer, which just released its hitting and pitching projections for every team.

We’re highlight the hitters here, with pitchers to follow in a subsequent post.

Anthony Rizzo 650 30 .280 .384 .378 4.2
Kris Bryant 659 29 .274 .382 .377 5.7
Kyle Schwarber 546 28 .240 .353 .349 2.9
Javier Baez 609 28 .268 .312 .334 3.2
Willson Contreras 462 14 .256 .339 .332 2.7
Ben Zobrist 586 12 .267 .351 .332 2.5
Jason Heyward 569 12 .268 .340 .325 2.4
Ian Happ 448 18 .231 .331 .324 1.2
Victor Caratini 232 5 .260 .326 .314 0.7
Addison Russell 32 1 .247 .320 .312 0.2
David Bote 131 4 .246 .309 .310 0.2
Albert Almora Jr. 409 8 .270 .313 .307 1.1

So there’s a lot to unpack here, but my first take away is: Wow, Javy Baez’s .334 wOBA projection seems low. But it’s actually not that surprising. Steamer works by differentially weighing each of a player’s previous few seasons. The fact is Javy didn’t blow MLB away in 2016 (.316 wOBA) and 2017 (.328 wOBA) like he did in 2018. Whether you think El Mago’s 34-homer season is repeatable is irrelevant to the computers; these machines don’t forget what happened.

The next highlight is Kyle Schwarber’s .349 wOBA, which would barely qualify as the big left fielder’s career-best mark. A lot has been made about Theo Epstein’s comment of evaluating production rather than talent. We know War Bear can mash balls into Lake Michigan, but you can’t help but think Epstein’s targets included Schwarber’s .333 and .343 wOBA in recent seasons. It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Schwarber’s talent eventually translates to top-tier offensive value.

Speaking of talent and production, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr.’s projections don’t suggest the two outfielders will fully translate their skills to stats. Both are projected to rack up over 400 PAs, but both are locked in for about one WAR. Steamer is basically hinting at a repeat of 2018 for them. Ditto for Jason Heyward, whose .325 wOBA projection is about the same as what he produced in 2018 (.319 wOBA).

Then there’s Willson Contreras, who absolutely destroyed my fantasy team last year because he only hit 10 homers. And despite that seeming like an aberration, he is projected to finish with a .332 wOBA and just 14 homers. Remember, it was just one season ago that Willson was on pace for over 30 homers before a hamstring injury early in the 2017 second half halted his season. I’d be a little surprised if Contreras doesn’t push the 20-homer mark.

And of course, there are the men who glue the lineup together: Bryzzo. Both superstars project essentially the same, with Steamer thinking Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant will hit 30 and 29 homers, respectively. Yet I don’t know about that Bryant projection. I mean, I get why it’s at 29 because of 2017 and an injury-riddled 2018, but it’s KB. I’ll take the over on 29 and bet a decent amount of money on it. Just please rest up. Limit the golf, ease the shoulder, get frequent massages, eat well, sleep well. Please be safe.

Ugh, it’s going to be a long offseason.

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