HomeTrending MLB News2024 ZiPS Projections: Chicago Cubs

2024 ZiPS Projections: Chicago Cubs

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For the 20th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Chicago Cubs.


Are the Cubs back to their mid-2010s form? That’s a bit of a stretch, but these Cubs showed they have a live pulse, not falling out of playoff contention until the final week of the 2023 season. Cody Bellinger, one of the reasons the offense was so potent (third in the National League in runs scored), turned out to be one of the best pillow-contract signings of all time. Perhaps a little too good, as it was enough for Bellinger to decline his side of a $25 million mutual option for 2024. The Cubs could still sign Bellinger, but even if they do, it’s not a great bet they’ll get the same production as last year. ZiPS is a bit more optimistic than Steamer, but it still projects a returning Bellinger to “give back” some of his contact and a significant chunk of his power.

Still, losing that offense hurts. The Cubs haven’t directly replaced it, but they’ve at least avoided any gaping holes. If the season started today, you’d probably see a lot of Pete Crow-Armstrong in center, and while ZiPS doesn’t project him to match Bellinger’s output, it’s a respectable projection that cushions the blow of a Bellinger loss. Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner combine to form one of the best middle infields in baseball — and a surprisingly underrated one. ZiPS is also surprisingly bullish on third base, regardless of whatever combination of Nick Madrigal, Patrick Wisdom, and Michael Busch end up playing there.

First base was a tricky spot, and I’ve gotten the distinct impression that the Cubs aren’t particularly wedded to the idea of just sticking Matt Mervis there for 140 games. I expect he’ll get his chances, but in a more complementary role that shields him from lefties as much as possible. The late trade for Busch lends credence to the notion that they didn’t feel Mervilous (sorry) about their situation at the cold corner, as do the rumors of them exploring first base options like Rhys Hoskins.

ZiPS doesn’t see any offensive prospects roaring to make a big impact this year. The computer likes Kevin Alcántara over the long haul, projecting a 25-WAR career, but it doesn’t see him breaking through and earning much of that in 2024. ZiPS is less into James Triantos, but he’s also young and the long-term error bars in the projections are massive.


This section looks a lot sunnier than it did last week! Shōta Imanaga is my favorite signing of this offseason and I think it’s probably the computer’s favorite as well (ZiPS utilizes DeltaGraphs stats for NPB players). I suspect some teams are going to kick themselves that the Cubs got Imanaga this cheaply — and if my suspicion is wrong, I’m sure someone will remind me in a year or two! ZiPS is projecting a skosh of regression from Justin Steele, but some of that is simply the realities of projecting pitchers; both Imanaga and Steele fall just out of the top 10 in NL starter projections, but with inning counts that are a little behind the league’s elite.

Jameson Taillon and Kyle Hendricks both project as useful, but they’re hardly forecast as significant pluses. I feel like the Cubs must still be planning on an addition to the rotation. I’m not sure that means Jordan Montgomery, who I expect is going to get a pretty healthy contract, but unlike with the position players, there are still some interesting pitchers out there.

The bullpen projects as very middle-of-the-road in 2024. Steamer’s more positive, with the bigger differences being that ZiPS is giving a little more side-eye to Mark Leiter Jr. and Luke Little. Adbert Alzolay’s projection breaks down as a 3.00 ERA as a reliever and a 4.43 ERA as a starter.

I’m considering adding another table next offseason for the pitchers who ZiPS projects with time as both a starter and a reliever. Along these lines, one guy where you might want to look past the projection is Ben Brown. ZiPS thinks that Brown would be a dynamite late reliever, projecting a 3.20 ERA if he were used that way. He’s probably the eighth or ninth starter in the rotation right now, and a more focused relief role might help him shore up his command.

There’s still a lot of winter to go, but ZiPS sees the Cubs as most likely finishing in the 83-88 win range or thereabouts. Chicago is the last NL Central team to go and, probably to nobody’s surprise, ZiPS doesn’t see a big dog in the division. As of right now, it sees the Cardinals as a very slight favorite, the Brewers and Cubs close behind, the Reds a few games back of that, and the Pirates in the mid-to-high-70s in wins, though not so far behind that it would be the craziest thing in the world for them to contend in the division.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here. Size of player names is very roughly proportional to Depth Chart playing time.

Batters – Standard

Dansby SwansonR30SS6335668514428222775815393
Nico HoernerR272B6075517715225311664073295
Cody BellingerL28CF5444878013024219734492144
Ian HappB29LF62053876135323217973146103
Michael BuschL263B5644958112328222755514831
Seiya SuzukiR29RF5624927413427422726112566
Christopher MorelR25CF54649277119225268245168104
Nick MadrigalR273B3513214390163232183182
Mike TauchmanL33CF42736663861918455410081
Pete Crow-ArmstrongL22CF53148383116206147034151239
Miles MastrobuoniL283B42938355981745404395153
Matt MervisL261B5404836912126121764513511
Chase StrumpfR263B432373517517113534716021
Patrick WisdomR323B391345527315023603914352
Yan GomesR36C3473203680151942177011
Yonathan PerlazaB25LF5204686511228215664713574
Luis VazquezR24SS4934485110418110543112866
David BoteR31SS37433239741719413110031
Kevin AlcantaraR21CF4724356210118312552914383
Joe HudsonR33C244213244370725268311
Jake SlaughterR273B4333914887151125728132115
Miguel AmayaR25C2602232649110731257111
Alexander CanarioR24RF416382488417217572914062
BJ Murray Jr.B243B507449541002429545213872
Hayden CantrelleB252B36630743571224344710493
Jorge AlfaroR31C3172972670141739129541
Matt ShawR22SS17916921457262663282
Moises BallesterosL20C476432511062201354399821
Eric HosmerL341B4023693798180946297521
Brennen DavisR24RF37233440721808512511263
Caleb KnightR28C1048910193011192301
Brian ServenR29C257237224781625137801
Ezequiel PaganL23RF4374004999143646248265
Joshua RiveraR23SS11610813224121164011
Edwin RíosL303B2582302947110929219401
Darius HillL26RF43039949104192442247432
Tyler PayneR31C203190174410122195401
Bryce WindhamL27C251223265281220224921
Bradlee BeesleyR26CF311281365813363422103132
Jake WasherR28C18317517357051976511
D.J. ArtisL27LF201176273551319186382
Owen CaissieL21RF5294715910121114645018656
Felix StevensR241B430397478219118602717432
Liam SpenceR262B149132152440110144711
Haydn McGearyR241B5194574810419112585114132
Fabian PertuzR233B36233936681225321610683
Zach DavisB30CF1861672333400141459122
Luis VerdugoR233B3443193168170430218621
James TriantosR212B4313985099153441256993
Pablo AliendoR23C37734038701618442512321
Christian FranklinR24CF37032149661128423511675
Nelson MaldonadoR271B3553243576181638258211
Casey OpitzB25C246219214060319239211
Scott McKeonR262B2422212739922201210271
Cole RoedererL24LF35331832661117362811352
Jordan NwoguR25LF38034739679210432314894

Batters – Advanced

Dansby Swanson633.254.327.428104.173.312114.1.32782
Nico Hoerner607.276.335.39298.116.302153.9.31880
Cody Bellinger544.267.327.441108.175.29532.7.32875
Ian Happ620.251.344.439112.188.30742.6.33884
Michael Busch564.248.333.446111.198.311-22.5.33775
Seiya Suzuki562.272.352.478124.205.325-12.4.35487
Christopher Morel546.242.309.465108.224.312-42.0.33174
Nick Madrigal351.280.333.36892.087.30681.8.31042
Mike Tauchman427.235.337.35891.123.30251.8.31046
Pete Crow-Armstrong531.240.301.39388.153.32161.7.30266
Miles Mastrobuoni429.256.330.36089.104.32921.4.30750
Matt Mervis540.251.322.439106.188.30621.3.32769
Chase Strumpf432.201.306.35781.155.31071.3.29541
Patrick Wisdom391.212.300.455103.243.279-31.1.32349
Yan Gomes347.250.297.38885.138.29500.8.29637
Yonathan Perlaza520.239.312.40494.165.30530.8.31162
Luis Vazquez493.232.292.34473.112.30350.8.28049
David Bote374.223.300.36180.139.29100.7.29237
Kevin Alcantara472.232.284.37077.138.31840.7.28449
Joe Hudson244.202.295.33372.131.29330.6.28122
Jake Slaughter433.223.291.35876.136.30430.6.28645
Miguel Amaya260.220.320.36387.143.290-30.5.30527
Alexander Canario416.220.279.40885.188.29850.5.29646
BJ Murray Jr.507.223.310.34579.122.301-20.5.29250
Hayden Cantrelle366.186.310.27763.091.26620.1.27329
Jorge Alfaro317.236.278.36073.125.323-30.1.27831
Matt Shaw179.266.302.43899.172.298-70.1.31525
Moises Ballesteros476.245.307.38788.141.290-140.0.30252
Eric Hosmer402.266.321.38893.122.312-20.0.30847
Brennen Davis372.216.293.34173.126.29950.0.28336
Caleb Knight104.213.327.28169.067.277-10.0.2859
Brian Serven257.198.250.31654.118.2683-0.1.24919
Ezequiel Pagan437.248.303.34376.095.2984-0.1.28545
Joshua Rivera116.204.250.31553.111.3031-0.2.2479
Edwin Ríos258.204.283.37077.165.299-3-0.2.28624
Darius Hill430.261.307.34879.088.3121-0.2.28844
Tyler Payne203.232.272.32663.095.313-2-0.3.26317
Bryce Windham251.233.302.30567.072.291-5-0.4.27321
Bradlee Beesley311.206.283.33869.132.302-6-0.4.27630
Jake Washer183.200.235.32651.126.286-2-0.5.24414
D.J. Artis201.199.294.29061.091.291-2-0.6.26717
Owen Caissie529.214.295.35277.138.321-1-0.6.28753
Felix Stevens430.207.265.39578.189.3120-0.6.28543
Liam Spence149.182.264.23538.053.274-1-0.7.2319
Haydn McGeary519.228.314.35282.125.303-4-0.7.29652
Fabian Pertuz362.201.246.29247.091.2765-0.7.23827
Zach Davis186.198.270.22237.024.306-1-0.7.23013
Luis Verdugo344.213.262.30455.091.2791-0.7.25126
James Triantos431.249.299.33273.083.292-9-0.7.27943
Pablo Aliendo377.206.275.32965.124.297-9-0.8.26932
Christian Franklin370.206.304.32773.121.294-9-0.8.28535
Nelson Maldonado355.235.294.35276.117.297-2-0.8.28434
Casey Opitz246.183.265.25143.068.298-4-0.9.23815
Scott McKeon242.176.231.26235.086.316-1-1.1.22115
Cole Roederer353.208.275.31461.107.298-1-1.1.26229
Jordan Nwogu380.193.256.31756.124.3021-1.3.25432

Batters – Top Near-Age Offensive Comps

Batters – 80th/20th Percentiles

Player80th BA80th OBP80th SLG80th OPS+80th WAR20th BA20th OBP20th SLG20th OPS+20th WAR
Dansby Swanson.281.350.4801235.
Nico Hoerner.305.364.4331175.2.249.310.355822.5
Cody Bellinger.291.353.4981274.0.241.303.400901.4
Ian Happ.275.368.5001334.1.227.320.390941.1
Michael Busch.271.359.5041303.9.224.309.394921.3
Seiya Suzuki.301.377.5351453.8.248.327.4251051.2
Christopher Morel.269.337.5321323.
Nick Madrigal.309.361.4061112.6.252.307.325751.0
Mike Tauchman.260.365.3961072.7.206.307.305700.6
Pete Crow-Armstrong.265.326.4451072.
Miles Mastrobuoni.286.359.4001082.
Matt Mervis.274.347.5001272.
Chase Strumpf.226.330.4121012.
Patrick Wisdom.242.325.5261262.
Yan Gomes.282.326.4401031.
Yonathan Perlaza.265.338.4651142.
Luis Vazquez.256.315.388921.
David Bote.252.329.414991.
Kevin Alcantara.258.310.417941.
Joe Hudson.232.327.392921.
Jake Slaughter.249.315.406951.
Miguel Amaya.249.350.4181101.
Alexander Canario.249.311.4671071.
BJ Murray Jr..247.335.396981.
Hayden Cantrelle.211.337.324821.
Jorge Alfaro.264.308.410920.
Matt Shaw.296.330.5001210.
Moises Ballesteros.275.335.4401071.
Eric Hosmer.294.346.4291101.
Brennen Davis.242.314.377880.
Caleb Knight.250.356.329890.
Brian Serven.231.282.380770.
Ezequiel Pagan.276.326.391940.
Joshua Rivera.231.281.366740.
Edwin Ríos.235.310.423970.
Darius Hill.292.333.387970.
Tyler Payne.264.304.368830.
Bryce Windham.272.336.352900.
Bradlee Beesley.232.311.382860.
Jake Washer.235.272.389770.
D.J. Artis.227.325.33279-
Owen Caissie.242.324.401970.
Felix Stevens.234.297.456990.
Liam Spence.213.294.27858-
Haydn McGeary.253.341.4001010.
Fabian Pertuz.228.272.340640.
Zach Davis.228.301.25756-
Luis Verdugo.239.288.351720.
James Triantos.276.325.379900.
Pablo Aliendo.238.308.375860.
Christian Franklin.232.333.372890.
Nelson Maldonado.261.322.403970.
Casey Opitz.212.295.30261-
Scott McKeon.204.256.31053-
Cole Roederer.233.301.35377-
Jordan Nwogu.221.279.36573-

Batters – Projected Splits

PlayerBA vs. LOBP vs. LSLG vs. LBA vs. ROBP vs. RSLG vs. R
Dansby Swanson.259.337.437.252.323.424
Nico Hoerner.280.338.386.273.333.395
Cody Bellinger.257.314.434.272.333.445
Ian Happ.247.339.416.253.345.448
Michael Busch.233.319.413.260.343.471
Seiya Suzuki.282.374.497.267.340.467
Christopher Morel.245.319.473.240.302.461
Nick Madrigal.283.338.375.279.330.363
Mike Tauchman.232.327.347.236.341.362
Pete Crow-Armstrong.234.300.377.243.302.401
Miles Mastrobuoni.244.314.346.264.341.370
Matt Mervis.240.312.402.257.328.461
Chase Strumpf.198.307.370.204.305.346
Patrick Wisdom.215.306.469.209.296.447
Yan Gomes.262.310.393.244.290.385
Yonathan Perlaza.238.312.404.240.311.404
Luis Vazquez.233.295.349.232.290.340
David Bote.227.306.361.221.297.362
Kevin Alcantara.236.295.385.230.277.360
Joe Hudson.200.305.333.203.288.333
Jake Slaughter.232.301.367.215.283.350
Miguel Amaya.232.333.379.211.311.352
Alexander Canario.219.286.427.221.273.392
BJ Murray Jr..219.309.338.225.310.349
Hayden Cantrelle.180.313.287.189.307.270
Jorge Alfaro.240.280.380.234.276.350
Matt Shaw.271.311.429.263.295.444
Moises Ballesteros.233.290.350.250.313.401
Eric Hosmer.250.302.345.273.330.407
Brennen Davis.221.302.359.212.286.328
Caleb Knight.225.340.250.204.316.306
Brian Serven.198.250.333.199.250.305
Ezequiel Pagan.236.296.333.253.306.347
Joshua Rivera.205.255.364.203.246.281
Edwin Ríos.200.274.338.206.286.382
Darius Hill.250.297.324.267.312.363
Tyler Payne.235.287.346.229.261.312
Bryce Windham.
Bradlee Beesley.207.281.345.206.284.333
Jake Washer.207.244.317.194.227.333
D.J. Artis.
Owen Caissie.200.277.309.222.305.376
Felix Stevens.204.271.395.208.261.396
Liam Spence.
Haydn McGeary.224.317.339.230.313.360
Fabian Pertuz.207.255.300.196.239.286
Zach Davis.
Luis Verdugo.219.275.321.209.253.291
James Triantos.253.307.352.246.294.318
Pablo Aliendo.213.280.333.200.271.326
Christian Franklin.210.319.339.203.295.320
Nelson Maldonado.239.306.373.231.284.335
Casey Opitz.
Scott McKeon.
Cole Roederer.
Jordan Nwogu.195.260.318.192.252.316

Pitchers – Advanced

Shota Imanaga137.
Justin Steele153.
Jameson Taillon136.
Kyle Hendricks132.
Jordan Wicks110.
Adbert Alzolay74.
Ben Brown95.
Javier Assad114.
Walker Powell95.
Drew Smyly121.
Thomas Pannone106.
Hayden Wesneski101.
Caleb Kilian108.
Cade Horton86.
Nick Neidert94.
Chris Clarke80.
Mark Leiter Jr.
Keegan Thompson74.
Richard Gallardo92.
Porter Hodge81.
Julian Merryweather56.711.93.81.310.0%31.1%.3031043.82960.3
Michael Fulmer53.710.
Luke Little56.711.
Daniel Palencia57.
Brandon Birdsell92.
Roenis Elías41.
Jose Cuas59.
Manuel Espinoza75.
Chris Kachmar54.
Kohl Franklin85.
Riley Thompson67.
Bailey Horn55.
Ben Leeper39.
Codi Heuer35.
Zac Leigh36.310.
Brandon Hughes42.
Yency Almonte45.710.
Frankie Scalzo Jr.
Cam Sanders69.
Shane Greene28.
Michael Rucker56.
Stephen Gonsalves41.
Richard Bleier36.
Brad Boxberger38.
Jake Reindl10.
Colten Brewer29.
Blake Whitney59.
Riley Martin57.310.55.81.314.2%25.7%.299884.82114-0.2
Cayne Ueckert37.
Josh Roberson37.
Joe Nahas68.
Hunter Bigge45.
Max Bain49.
Michael McAvene22.
Eduarniel Nunez41.
Ben Hecht25.
Burl Carraway18.
Kyle Johnson35.

Pitchers – Top Near-Age Comps

Pitchers – Splits and Percentiles

PlayerBA vs. LOBP vs. LSLG vs. LBA vs. ROBP vs. RSLG vs. R80th WAR20th WAR80th ERA20th ERA
Shota Imanaga.242.306.382.235.292.3764.01.82.964.35
Justin Steele.
Jameson Taillon.257.324.439.248.287.4262.30.53.925.12
Kyle Hendricks.265.323.461.265.302.4282.30.63.865.02
Jordan Wicks.276.336.417.240.309.4051.80.43.975.14
Adbert Alzolay.248.311.438.211.269.3401.
Ben Brown.241.324.404.236.314.3891.90.53.734.91
Javier Assad.248.336.406.260.324.4231.80.33.854.99
Walker Powell.278.323.439.254.295.4251.70.43.854.87
Drew Smyly.227.286.391.266.331.4611.80.03.955.40
Thomas Pannone.260.305.435.271.322.4471.70.23.985.19
Hayden Wesneski.257.329.445.235.301.3821.60.13.915.14
Caleb Kilian.265.338.408.260.331.4091.
Cade Horton.245.319.399.246.288.4331.40.23.915.11
Nick Neidert.279.348.448.253.313.4231.
Chris Clarke.275.323.443.270.321.4431.
Mark Leiter Jr..219.303.380.246.333.4081.4-0.23.585.32
Keegan Thompson.241.338.391.232.316.4041.2-0.23.725.19
Richard Gallardo.265.333.435.271.338.4420.9-0.24.545.65
Porter Hodge.257.373.405.228.330.3951.0-0.44.345.62
Julian Merryweather.216.315.402.229.298.3731.0-0.52.895.46
Michael Fulmer.235.328.373.245.325.4250.9-0.43.475.64
Luke Little.
Daniel Palencia.219.341.371.254.344.4390.8-
Brandon Birdsell.283.345.484.246.317.4210.8-0.34.695.67
Roenis Elías.267.327.378.263.323.4660.6-0.13.915.46
Jose Cuas.255.357.480.225.308.3410.8-0.43.525.19
Manuel Espinoza.276.342.448.268.326.4900.6-0.44.655.80
Chris Kachmar.269.350.472.259.331.4070.6-0.24.345.64
Kohl Franklin.251.354.401.265.355.4590.7-0.54.795.91
Riley Thompson.250.347.395.275.358.4790.6-0.44.685.98
Bailey Horn.231.329.400.250.349.4260.6-
Ben Leeper.232.338.391.247.311.4070.4-0.33.735.29
Codi Heuer.258.329.439.250.321.3750.3-0.33.825.07
Zac Leigh.235.333.441.225.317.3520.4-0.33.715.46
Brandon Hughes.231.322.346.231.328.4260.5-0.43.755.28
Yency Almonte.250.352.408.206.297.3710.5-0.43.575.18
Frankie Scalzo Jr..244.312.386.274.336.4590.4-
Cam Sanders.246.383.447.224.346.3680.6-0.94.316.14
Shane Greene.275.383.490.237.313.3900.2-0.44.436.31
Michael Rucker.257.333.426.254.328.4260.4-
Stephen Gonsalves.208.356.354.241.376.4260.4-0.64.356.41
Richard Bleier.241.279.379.315.347.5510.2-0.43.975.63
Brad Boxberger.225.321.423.256.352.4230.3-0.73.986.29
Jake Reindl.250.375.450.238.360.4290.0-
Colten Brewer.250.339.462.250.329.4380.1-0.44.456.15
Blake Whitney.270.344.450.250.324.4190.3-
Riley Martin.225.349.366.236.349.4120.4-0.73.955.53
Cayne Ueckert.273.377.439.221.344.3900.0-0.74.466.03
Josh Roberson.262.392.415.247.367.4320.0-0.74.836.50
Joe Nahas.288.371.477.264.355.4380.1-0.94.876.02
Hunter Bigge.226.356.393.261.367.4240.0-0.94.526.18
Max Bain.284.420.484.242.356.4240.0-0.85.436.92
Michael McAvene.233.377.349.283.404.522-0.3-0.75.637.23
Eduarniel Nunez.266.389.468.241.390.398-0.3-1.15.306.86
Ben Hecht.245.422.449.260.397.440-0.3-1.05.637.96
Burl Carraway.238.467.429.245.449.429-0.5-1.16.7610.43
Kyle Johnson.279.437.471.280.421.480-0.8-

Here are how the ZiPS percentiles worked out in 2023 for pitchers and hitters in in 2023. Percentiles are based on the projected PA or TBF.

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned or have retired, players who will miss 2024 due to injury, and players who were released in 2023. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Belgian Death Metal Skiffle Band that only plays songs by Franz Schubert, he’s still listed here intentionally. ZiPS is assuming a league with an ERA of 4.33.

Hitters are ranked by zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those that appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR.

As always, incorrect projections are either caused by flaws in the physical reality of the universe or by the skillful sabotage of our friend and former editor. You can, however, still get mad at me on Twitter.


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