Home Sports Chicago Cubs open spring training with no worries about projections of a 77-win season: ‘Our job is to prove them wrong’

Chicago Cubs open spring training with no worries about projections of a 77-win season: ‘Our job is to prove them wrong’

by staff

MESA, Ariz, — Opening remarks from spring training basically follow the same script at every camp.

The optimism of the new season is prevalent everywhere, thus the adage: “Hope springs eternal.”


And that was the thematic motif Wednesday at Chicago Cubs camp in Arizona, where the sun was shining and expectations were high, at least in the clubhouse.

“This is a year that we really feel that not only is there an expectation to come out here and play well but to win,” Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson said as he moved into Jason Heyward’s old locker at Sloan Park. “And I think when you start to make everything about that, good things will follow.”


Of course, not everyone is looking at the Cubs with the same blue-colored glasses. PECOTA projections have them at 77 wins and finishing third in the National League Central behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers. That would be the Cubs’ third straight sub-.500 season.

“Listen, projections, they have their methodologies,” Cubs President Jed Hoyer said. “We’ve answered these questions before. There definitely are years where projections haven’t liked us or haven’t liked us as much as we might. But ultimately our job is to prove them wrong. Every single year there are going to be plus- or minus-10 wins on all the projection systems.

“That has to be our goal, to be a team that’s plus-10 or more, and that’s what everyone here is working hard to do. That’s the job. But who am I to question someone’s methodology? We have our internal projections. There are going to be 10-plus projections systems we look at. Some might like us. Some might not. It doesn’t really matter.

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“Ultimately it’s about whether we can beat those projections and then compete for a playoff spot all summer.”

One of the reasons PECOTA projections doubted the Cubs was their starting pitching depth and lack of strikeout pitchers on the staff. Hoyer declined to discuss why their team projections suggest they will outperform PECOTA’s analytics.

“That’s a slippery slope, talking about whether you can outperform those,” Hoyer said. “But I think we’re going to throw a lot of strikes for sure. Our staff has really good command. We’re going to really catch the ball and then certainly the hope is that our run prevention in general exceeds expectations.

“But like I’ve said before, I’m never going to sit here and say why we’re going to outperform a certain projection system. … We don’t have a strikeout pitching staff, but certainly we should limit our walks and hopefully the balls in play we can limit to outs.”

Swanson, who inked a seven-year, $177 million deal to leave the Atlanta Braves and become the new face of the franchise, said he wouldn’t have signed without the idea of winning a World Series.


“That’s the only goal,” Swanson said. “There is no other reason to play this game other than to win. Realistically, when you look at everything that way, that’s why I came here, to be a part of something bigger than myself. To be a part of a team that could bring forth a fourth World Series (title) for this great organization.”

The Cubs are off and running, and now it’s time to start showing why they can disprove the skeptics.

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