The Chicago Cubs embark upon the 2014 season after an off-season that saw the team made little changes to the Major League roster. In 2014, the Cubs will hope for improvement from their position players and pitching staff after a 2013 season that saw the team lose 96 games.
Ryan Sweeney played sporadically in the outfield for the Cubs in 2013 and is expected to start the 2014 season as the team’s starting center fielder. Sweeney will be a player to watch this season as the 29-year old outfielder is expected to replace some of the production that the Cubs lost last season after trading away David DeJesus.
Sweeney hit .266/.324/.448 with the Cubs last season in 212 plate appearances while possessing a wOBA of .337 and a wRC+ of 110. Another impressive note about Sweeney’s 2013 season is that he had an ISO of .182 while only having a K% of 14.6. The K% from last season matches Sweeney’s career average while his .182 ISO last season is significantly higher than his .106 career ISO.
Defensively, Sweeney is a slightly above average center fielder. With the Cubs last season, Sweeney had an UZR of 2.4 while playing center field. For his career, Sweeney has an UZR of 4.7 while playing center field.
Sweeney is an interesting case for the Cubs outfield in 2014. Sweeney could actually be a productive player when playing everyday. The closest that Sweeney has come to playing everyday came in 2009 with the Oakland Athletics. Sweeney appeared in 134 games that season while collecting 534 plate appearances. Sweeney hit .293/.348/.407 that season with the Athletics to go along with a WAR of 3.9 wins.
The Cubs will be hoping for that production from Sweeney in 2014 with him playing every day. Sweeney is not part of the Cubs long-term plan but is a nice veteran to have on the team. That being said, Sweeney could be trade bait for the Cubs if he has a productive first half in 2014.