Our 2013 projections turn to the north side of Chicago where we examine two Cubs with plate discipline issues, but also significant upside. Can Alfonso Soriano stave off a regression at his age? Can Starlin Castro make a big progression at his age?
2013 Age: 37 – Splits: Slight vs RHP
2013 Projection: 502 AB, .249/.317/.475, 27 HR, 90 RBI, 65 R, 4 SB
Notes: Soriano did a couple of things really well in 2012 to produce his bounce-back season: 1) He stayed healthy. 2) He showed a slight improvement in plate discipline and lowered his fly-ball and pop-up rates. The bad news is that: 1) He'll be 37 in 2012 with a track record of being injury prone. 2) His plate discipline was still quite poor against league standards and it's unlikely that we see continued growth in his line drive rate given his age and track record.
Upside: .260/.333 with 30-plus HR and 100 RBI
Downside: Age and injuries lead to .235/.290 with around 20 HRs
2013 Age: 23 – Splits: Slight vs RHP, but .280-.290 range vs them in career.
2013 Projection: 657 AB, .301/.339/.444, 16 HR, 74 RBI, 88 R, 25 SB
Notes: Castro saw the first full-season drop in BABIP for his career, which correlated with a rise in his infield pop-up rate. While he's still very young, I don't think he'll ever develop above average plate discipline, but his ability to consistently hit line-drives will keep his upside to hit over .300 quite high. He's just now learning to hit for power and I foresee 20-plus home runs in his priime. Look for that power trend (three-year rise in ISO) to continue to rise a little in 2013.
Upside: .315/.350 with 20 HR, 30 SB and over 100 Rs
Downside: .285/.320 with 10 HR and 20 SB