Starlin Castro Was April's Mr. Wonderful

Starlin Castro Was April's Mr. Wonderful

If this is the true identity of the Cubs' 24-year-old shortstop (HE'S STILL JUST 24 AND HE'S A TWO TIME ALL-STAR), the people will rejoice.

Through the full month of April, Starlin Castro hit .308/.339/.471. That is very good -- about 22 percent better than the average hitter, according to wRC+. At his current PA/HR rate, Castro could end the year with 25 home runs, assuming he gets to his usual 700. He's walking just enough, and striking out rarely.

Last season was a miserable one for Castro at the plate, and a big reason why was because Starlin struck out so often. After three years of striking out about 14 percent of the time, that rate shot up to more than 18 percent -- about 30 additional strikeouts over a full season. Had those balls been put in play instead, Castro could've expected about 10 more hits, which would have pushed his average from .245 to .260.

Castro also showed less power last year. In each of his first two full seasons, he hit 55 extra base hits. In '13, that number fell to 46.

BUT 2013 IS SO LAST YEAR. This is 2014 now! And Castro is hitting with authority.

In the same way that strikeouts were a problem for Starlin in 2013, Castro's ability to avoid the K is a big part of his success this year. He's struck out in less than 12 percent of his plate appearances thus far, giving him one of the 30 lowest K-rates in the league.

Of those 30 players, only about a dozen have shown more power than Castro this season based on ISO. Starlin's .163 ISO through 26 games would be the best of his young career by far were he able to sustain it.

There's an obvious next question: can he sustain this? I have a counter-question: does he have to?

Even if Starlin starts striking out a bit more, and some of that early power recedes, I think it's still very likely based on the underlying skills he's displayed thus far that he can reach his ZiPS projection -- a .287/.324/.427 slash, making him a 3-win shortstop. You take that every damn time with him (he had a negative fWAR last year!).

If you think he can keep that strikeout rate low -- say, 12.6% instead of the 14.9% projected in ZiPS -- you can bump that avg and that slg up to .295 and .435 respectively. And if you think he can hit more than 16 home runs, now we're talking about another potential All-Star season.

April was a great month for Starlin. I hope he can do it again in each of the next five.

@AJWalsh08

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  • From Baseball Reference
    Castro: .308 BA, .339 OBP, .471 SL, .811 OPS.
    Alexei Ramirez: .351 BA, .375 OBP, .535 SL, .910 OPS.

    In short, no Paul Orndorff on the north side. BTW, Mr. Perfect is dead.

  • In reply to jack:

    This is a Cubs blog, who cares about Alexei Ramirez? The point of this post was that Castro has returned to form for the Cubs, not that he's the greatest shortstop in the game, or even in town. Stop trolling.

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    My point was that if he is "Mr. Wonderful" he is only compared to himself, not any standard of comparison. Maybe "Mr. not as mediocre" would have been a proper headline.

    And quit acting like Mrs. Low Gloss and using the insult troll when you don't have a reasoned response.

  • In reply to jack:

    I do have a reasoned response: this is a Cubs blog and the point of the post was that Starlin has returned to form. The post is saying that Castro seems to have found what he lost last year and has contributed to the Cubs in ways that he didn't last year. I don't think anyone, except maybe yourself, can read this post and think AJ Walsh means Castro is Mr. Wonderful for all of baseball.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ramirez' BABIP is north of .350. He's due to come back down to Earth.

  • re: Jack's stats. What does that make Alexei Ramirez? Mr. Colossal?

    Can we at least wait until the Cubs play outside their division, which this year seems to be a skosh mediocre.

  • It's really astonishing what Sveum seems to have done to both Rizzo and Castro. Talk about a major botching. Granted part of it seemed to be the FO's insistence on making Castro a player he wasn't, but then Sveum took it a step further and blamed Castro for that change, as if the player was the one who decided he'd completely change the approach that had worked for him up to that point.

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    I'm just happy they bailed on Sveum and corrected the mistake. Castro and Rizzo look like the players this FO envisioned.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I know it's only been a month so it's too early to tell, but hopefully Sveum didn't leave lasting damage on Castro and Rizzo

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    No, I truly am happy with what we've seen this year.

  • I think that it was an organizational decision to morph Castro into a grinder and Rizzo into 'The Babe', but mostly those attempts usually fail. Truth be told, players are what they are because it works for them with a few exceptions to that idea. The, so far, failed agenda is justified searching for improvement and 2013 was a year to find out and maybe over time it will help.

  • Alexei is coming off a down year as well.

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