Nick Castellanos: Buy or Sell
The move of Prince Fielder to Texas in exchange for Ian Kinsler was not a move about Ian Kinsler so much as it was about salary and the future. They wanted to move Miguel Cabrera to a position where he would be less likely to hurt himself or the team defensively. But it also showed they were confident in the playing ability of Nick Castellanos.
Late in 2013, Mike Newman called Castellanos, “one of, if not the most undervalued prospect asset in the fantasy baseball world.” Many saw him as a player who would be a slightly above average fielder, a well above average hitter with the potential for maybe 20-25 home runs per season.
His rookie year was disappointing as he failed to bat above .260; he hit only 11 home runs; and he provided the worst statistical defense of any third baseman in baseball. Are these just growing pains, or will he continue to scuffle?
The Tigers third baseman is 22 right now (23 at the start of next season). This leaves Castellanos with another three years of development time before he enters prime years. With an average body and limited athleticism, he’s not expected to age particularly well, but it’s not a concern for six-to-eight seasons in dynasty leagues.
In Castellanos’ first full season in the Majors, he had a BABIP of .326 which should have correlated to a .291 batting average. His batting average was far off this mark as he hit only .259. His Batted Ball Expected Batting Average (BBEBA) was used to figure out what could be the reason for this difference in his expected batting average and his actual batting average.
BBEBA is a formula that examines the different ways a player has put the ball in play (line drive rate, fly ball rate, groundball rate, infield fly ball rate, and infield hit rate). It assigns values for each percentage, so a higher line drive rate helps to get a higher batting average and a higher infield fly rate lowers the expected batting average. The BBEBA of Castellanos to this point in his career is .309. So what was explaining his low batting average if he makes such good contact?
The biggest issue with Castellanos was his high strikeout rate. Last season he struck out at a 24.2% rate and had more strikeouts than hits. He also chased outside pitches more than the league average. His strikeout rate will drop with experience. His z-contact% wasn’t great at 85%, but it should lead to a 19.4% strikeout rate next year. This would result in a .276 batting average or higher.
11 home runs was a disappointing result for Castellanos. He hits for a high enough fly ball rate to increase his home run total to at least 17 home runs next season. Expect an increase.
It is important to note the right-handed hitter hits righties better than lefties, which is opposite of the norm. This includes better power production, although strikeout totals are also higher. Minimal platoon splits means the third baseman isn’t in danger of becoming a platoon player limited to 400-450 plate appearances per season.
The Future for Nick Castellanos
Castellanos has a bright future ahead of him and next season can be a breakout campaign. He will raise his batting average, see an increase in home runs, and have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs in the middle of a potent lineup. Nick Castellanos is a must own in dynasty leagues and will quickly become one of the best young hitters in the league.
6 Nov 2014 / Edward Sutelan /
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