Fan Views – Starlin Castro: The Enigma

Here at Born on Third we like to hear what you the fan thinks, because after all we are all fans, and we want to know what’s going on in your head regarding the Cubs.  Have a comment, want to vent about the Cubs?  Then send us an email at bornon3rdcubs@yahoo.com and we will feature it on the blog.  Our first entry comes from Stanley Croussett, a die-hard Cubs fan from Philadelphia, PA.  Give him a follow on twitter for more Cubs chatter, and please do not hesitate to send us your thoughts!

Chance has it that if you’ve even remotely watched the Chicago Cubs in the past three years, you’ve seen the Cubs start a young short stop by the name of Starlin Castro. From the get-go Castro became a star, driving in 6 in his debut versus the Reds on May 7th, 2010.  The Cubs SS kept that momentum and went on to finish his rookie season with a line of .300/.347/.408.
 
How could the then-21 year old improve on that season? As a Cub fan, regression was easily the most expected thing to expect from Castro – Considering that 2008 Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto’s sophomore slump was fresh in everyone’s minds. But did Castro fall under the same spell? Absolutely not! The Monte Cristi, DR native actually improved his numbers in his sophomore season (.307/.341/.432) and even became the youngest player to lead the National League in hits (207) ever!
 
And moving onto today, we’ve all heard the praise from Len Kasper and Bob Brenly about Starlin being a .300 hitter, not a .299 hitter; the ceiling statements from scouts saying he’ll compete for a batting title some day; and the comparisons from big league authorities everywhere.
 
But now the question arises: Why is Starlin hitting .279 this deep into the season?
 
Hold the trains! Starlin Castro is not regressing! The 2012 season has been a learning experience to Castro. Sure he isn’t hitting .300, but that is because he’s been laying off many more pitches.
 
Starlin’s been called a great bad-pitch hitter, and we’ve certainly seen it when he takes that pitch in the LH batter’s box and bloops it to Right Field for a single. Sadly, though, that pitch has produced many more strikeouts than it has hits. For quite a while now, Starlin’s been laying off that pitch and many others like it. Yes, he hasn’t been getting the hits on the good pitches yet but that is all part of the learning curve of the adjustment.
 
So should we worry about Starlin’s reduced batting average? Absolutely not. Should the rest of the National League worry that he’s close to adjusting? Absolutely yes!
Thanks again Stan, and thanks for reading,
– George

4 Comments

I can’t stand him right now because he looks like he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t hustle and has been struck out looking. He needs time off and a good chew out.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I know for a fact he cares. He has the most hits in the Majors since May 2010, he has never struggled, this is the first time ever in the big leagues. He will learn, and is learning, there’s always an adjustment. Thanks for reading!
– George

The numbers show that Starlin has indeed regressed a bit this year, offensively. I had this same debate with someone a week ago and we settled it by visiting FanGraphs. He is swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone and making contact with fewer than he did last season. He is also swinging at fewer pitches inside the strike zone and making contact with fewer, as opposed to last season. He’s not laying off more pitches than last year; he’s actually swinging at more. His K% is up, while his BB% and OBP are down, the last, rather significantly from ’11. He’s also making contact with fewer pitches and swinging and missing more than was the case in’ 11. While he’s on pace to set career highs in homers and RBI, he has only 13 doubles thus far, although his 8 triples and SB numbers are rather impressive at this point. I don’t think anyone should be worried about Castro, as he isn’t even yet 22.5, but he’s not having as good of an offensive season at the plate as he did last year. Frankly, I hope more fans would be pleased with his improvements on D rather than be concerned about his offensive numbers being down a bit this year.

Good stuff Nigel, I’ve also gone the Fan Graphs route and noticed what you noticed. Castro is going to hit, his defensive improvements can make him elite if he can continue that progression moving forward. Thanks for sharing your thoughts man, and thanks for reading.
– George

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