by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
At one time it looked like Starlin Castro was going to emerge as a superstar. While that didn’t happen in Chicago, he certainly gave fantasy owners hope in his first season as a New York Yankee. Is it enough to make us buy into him once again or was this more of a one time performance? First let’s take a look at the numbers from 2016:
577 At Bats
.270 Batting Average (156 Hits)
21 Home Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.300 On Base Percentage
.433 Slugging Percentage
.305 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Obviously the number that jumps out at you is the spike in power, and playing half his games at Yankee Stadium certainly helped. In fact he hit 15 HR at home and only 6 on the road, so it would be easy to simply use that as an explanation. It would also allow us to maintain a similar expectation, though that would be a mistake.
The fact is that the power surge came from one big month (8 HR in August). In that month he posted a 22.2% HR/FB, something that no one is going to believe. Additionally, if we take that out he hit 13 HR, never more than 4 in a month, and averaged 2.6 HR/month. That would put him on pace for 15-18 HR, something that would be much more believable.
As for the rest of the numbers, he continues to fail to steal bases. There was a time that we’d expect 15+ from him, but he’s posted 9 or fewer in four straight seasons (and 5 or fewer in three straight). At this point it’s simply not a part of his game.
The same can be said for walks, as he posted a 3.9% walk rate and a 36.4% O-Swing%. More concerning, though, is his spike in swinging strikes, up to a 11.3% SwStr%. Obviously the move to the Ameican League may have played a factor, though the fact that it jumped up to 12.6% in the second half tells a slightly different story.
It’s possible that he was swinging for the fences, thanks to the big HR month. That thought is aided by the 35.2% fly ball rate in the second half, considering his overall 30.2% mark (30.5% for his career). For a player who has never carried an elevated line drive rate (career mark of 20.0%, 20.7% last season), this is a significant red flag.
It’s not to say that there isn’t potential in Castro, but expecting a big breakout would also be a mistake. He has little stolen base upside and there’s a good chance the power drops. If he continues trying to hit for power the average will quickly plummet, but even as it is he isn’t an elite average producer. What does that get us? A middle infielder, at best, but not a player we’d be looking to target.
Source – Fangraphs