Is Starlin Castro Back? A Way-Too-Early Check On Chicago Cubs Batting Statistics

Is Starlin Castro Back? A Way-Too-Early Check On Chicago Cubs Batting Statistics

Few players' full-season batting lines will much resemble their current numbers after we play another 150 games. But I'm waiting for a school's data set to geocode so why don't we go over the story so far as quickly as we can. If you can figure out how these guys are sorted you will win a prize.

Emilio Bonifacio - .392/.436/.451 - .455 BABIP - .059 ISO - 7.1% BB - 12.5% K

I don't have to tell you this guy's numbers are gonna come down. Obviously the BABIP (.455) is due to come back, but Super Emilio has only struck out 7 times so far. His career K-rate is 20, not 12. Still, the speed is there, and he should be able to contribute going forward.

Junior Lake - .265/.306/.559 - .368 BABIP - .294 ISO - 5.4% BB - 35.1% K

His BABIP might look too high (.368), but it's actually slightly lower than it was last season (.377). I'm not saying it'll stay that high all year, but considering the type of player he is -- fast, lots of swing-and-miss, all-or-nothing type of swings -- we shouldn't be sitting around waiting for it to drop necessarily. The walks (not many) and strikeouts (too many) look about right, but don't expect 5 extra-base hits every 37 PA (2 2b, 1 3b, 2 hr so far). Question is, how many XBH will there be? Lake will never be an on-base guy, so he needs to flash some power to assert himself as a valuable hitter.

Anthony Rizzo - .319/.389/.489 - .342 BABIP - .170 ISO - 7.4% BB - 14.8% K

For all his power, the Rizz feels to me like he has a pretty decent hit tool, so last year's .258 BABIP doesn't look right. But this year's .342 to date isn't right either. If Tony can end the season with a batting average above .270 -- he's currently at .319 -- we should all be screaming like little girls. Meanwhile, his BB, K, and ISOs so far all look about right. Could be a great year for Rizzo.

Nate Schierholtz - .275/.286/.350 - .333 BABIP - .075 ISO - 2.4% BB - 19% K

Sporting a .333 BABIP, but not a lot to show for it so far. He's only hit three doubles to date, and hasn't yet homered. There's more power in that bat and I'd bet we see it sooner rather than later.

Starlin Castro - .300/.327/.460 - .325 BABIP - .160 ISO - 3.8% BB - 15.4% K

Don't know how to insert GIFs on this blog so you'll just have to click this link. OH MAH GAHD, BECKY. The ISO (.160) is higher than it's been in any previous full season; the BABIP is back to within career average (.325 vs. .323). Dude is never gonna walk much (3.8% so far) but if he can just hit the damn ball then who cares. ZiPS and Steamer projections both have Cassie for .280/.320/.410ish by year's end...GIMME THE DAMN OVER!

Welington Castillo - .222/.282/.417 - .300 BABIP - .194 ISO - 5% BB - 35% K

Dude needs to strike out less (14 K in 40 PA) and walk more (just 2), but you gotta love the early power (1 2b, 2 hr). His contributions will look a bit different by year end but this is more or less who he is.

Luis Valbuena - .208/.345/.250 - .294 BABIP - .042 ISO - 17.2% BB - 24.1% K

Weird: more than 40 percent of his plate appearances have ended in either a walk or a strikeout. Like a three-true-outcomes guy, but without the home runs. Don't know why pitchers are walking him so much (17%!). If pitchers want to put him on 34.5 percent of the time you don't worry about the low power numbers, but I really really doubt Luis ends the year with a .042 ISO. Think more like .142.

Ryan Sweeney - .200/.276/.240 - .278 BABIP - .040 ISO - 10% BB - 26.7% K

Sweeney ISOed .113 for the Red Sox in 2012, then .182 for the Cubs last season. Don't know who he really is, but he's better than a .040. He won't keep striking out this much either. All that said, though, he's not an earth shaker, and probably won't suddenly become one.

Justin Ruggiano - .158/.238/.211 - .250 BABIP - .053 ISO - 9.5% BB - 33.3% K

Valbuena, Sweeney, and Ruggiano have all failed to hit for power so far in this early season. Of course it's way to early to think they've somehow forgotten how. And of the three, Ruggiano is the surest bet to suddenly start hitting a bunch of doubles and homers off of lefties before long. He'll probably hit .250 and slug .420 the rest of the way (currently at .158 and .211).

Mike Olt - .231/.286/.500 - .222 BABIP - .269 ISO - 3.6% BB - 21.4% K

Another intriguing guy to talk about in the "is he for real?" column. If Olt can keep his batting average at or above .230, I think he has enough power (think ISO of .200+) to keep his place in the major leagues. Right now he's at .231. He'll probably strike out more often in the future (at about 20% now, think more like 30% in the future), but he's got some BABIP upside in him too (.222 currently). Both ZiPS and Steamer have him for .220/.300/.390 the rest of the way; give me the over.

Ryan Kalish - .143/.250/.286 - .214 BABIP - .143 ISO - 12% BB - 28% K

Looks like Ryan has hit into some bad luck (.214). The ISO (.143) and walks (12%) are nice, but K-rate needs to come down from 28. It would be cool if he could hit for the Cubs like he did for the PawSox in 2012 (.261/.336/.414), but his ZiPS projection of .237/.302/.360 is unfortunately more likely.

Darwin Barney - .136/.321/.136 - .176 BABIP - .000 ISO - 21.4% BB - 17.9% K

Barney has a new strategy: don't swing at anything! He's only swung at 36.6 percent of the pitches thrown his way (league average is about 10 points higher). Somehow that has translated into the team's highest walk rate (21.4%)! This line is too weird to talk about.

John Baker - .000/.083/.000 - .000 BABIP - .000 ISO - 0% BB - 33.3% K

BABIP of zero. In a few words, he will get better.


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  • If there's one stat I lean on too heavily in this post without explaining what it is, it's ISO, short for isolated slugging. It's SLG minus AVG -- basically it ISOLATES a player's ability to knock extra-base hits. You can get lucky on singles, which might inflate your SLG (see Bonifacio's .451), but your ISO will tell the truth about your power (Boni is at .451 - .392 = .059, which is actually below his career mark).

  • I don't follow all the numbers, but the top 5 or 6 players don't explain a .333 record. Is the pitching really that bad?

  • In reply to jack:

    Offense rates pretty poorly despite successes of those several top players. Remember, Lake and Olt are pretty much platoon guys so far, and most Cub outfielders have been bad bad bad with the bat.

    Starting pitching has been good as a whole, but the bullpen ranks 29th in fWAR. Veras-Russell-Strop-Schlitter-Wright have been really bad so far (-1 fWAR).

    Defense has been pretty okay.

  • In reply to AJ Walsh:

    Starting pitching stats "as a whole" don't mean much when one of the starters, while 0-1, has a 6.18 ERA (8.5 in his past 2 starts) and another starter is a "temp."

    The other 3 starters have good records and ERA.

    Of course, Veras is stinking it up with a 12.27 ERA, but surprisingly has no record.

  • Nice post, AJ. Early fruits look good for Castro and Rizzo.
    I guess now we just wait and see if it holds up.

    A suggestion -- include PA next time when you're referencing so many percentage stats. I think it really helps, especially when the sample size is so small this early.

  • In reply to justinjabs:

    Yeah I shoulda. Good call.

  • fb_avatar

    Very interesting read. Seems like there are some positive early indicators with some of our key players like Rizzo and Castro and some potential upside/recovery yet to come from some like Olt, Ruggiano, Castillo. And all of this to date against a pretty solid schedule. I'm cautiously optimistic for this season - no playoff run, but trending in the right direction for development of some core players for the future.

    BTW - looks like it is sorted on BABIP.

  • In reply to KC3772:

    You win the prize! What's your twitter handle, I'll give you a follow!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to AJ Walsh:

    Wait, I was gonna say that. But I guess that'd sort of be cheating. And you already follow me. In any case, this is some good stuff; it's like a can of frozen OJ concentrate. Lots of info packed into a small package.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to AJ Walsh:

    Not on Twitter, but no need for a prize anyway! A die-hard Cubs fan who just loves info like this. Thanks for your work!

  • I'll take Castro's 2012 numbers and be happy. .283/.323/.430. - ISO .147 and BABIP .315.

    He was never going to sustain his BABIP from 2010 & 2011. (.346 & .344)

    It's unfortunate that having a very good start has brought about greater expectations of Castro. I wouldn't mind having him batting 6th in the lineup and producing his 2012 numbers.

    He's not as bad as his numbers were last year, but also not as good as his numbers from the first two years of his career. It just goes to show you that talent without proper development will produce numbers that are all over the place. That is especially early in their careers, before they figure things out. I wish this regime had Castro early on as a prospect.

  • What we need most is more obscure statistics. About as much as we need extra kneecaps. aw're two weeks in and we haven't really learned anything I can detect. I've seen very little in SD parts of two games and some highlights 4-9 won't get much praise here.

  • Taking the over again on Castro? The real question is over .800 OPS or not...

  • Yeah AJ you are looking pretty good right now with your Castro/Rizzo .800 OPS.

  • The beautiful thing here is you can see with your eyes and stats that Rizzo/Castro are performing.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    So where do you figure these two will wind up? Will Castro bat over 250? And have more errors than runs batted in?
    Will Rizzo strike out 3 times for every homer he hits?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I'm not one that frets over K's too much as long as the production is there otherwise. I certainly see a more career avg year for Castro closer to .300. Rizzo should hit 30 HR IMO.

  • FWIW I actually don't think Castro will make 800. But I'll take a 5-to-1 bet on it! I think his OBP will be in the 320-330 range and his average in the 280-300 range, so I need a pretty big ISO to hit. Even .290/.325/.475 is a pretty big ask I think.

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