Detroit Tigers 2014 Grades: Nick Castellanos

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. 3B. Detroit Tigers. NICK CASTELLANOS. B+

Nick Castellanos’s performance for the Detroit Tigers in 2014 was the non-story of the year. Castellanos got lost in the mix among the Tigers’ dilemma at shortstop, the decline of Justin Verlander, the tumult in the bullpen, and the trade deadline moves.

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The barometer for Castellanos’s success in 2014 was the need (or lack of the need) for him to return to Toledo to work on his plate approach. The pinnacle for Castellanos would have been the Rookie of the Year award, but Jose Abreu made sure there were no doubts about the American League ROY.

Castellanos played 148 games in 2014 which was good for 4th on the team trailing only Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez. At the plate, Castellanos was incredibly solid in his first full season. Castellanos hit .259/.306/.394 with 11 HR and 66 RBI in his rookie campaign with an oWAR of 1.6.

Castellanos’s advanced metrics measure how solid Castellanos was at the plate. He had a line drive percentage of 28.5% with an infield fly ball rate (IFFB%) of 2.1% which is why his BABIP was .326 on the season. His line drive rate was second in all of baseball trailing only Freddy Freeman. Castellanos’s IFFB% was 12th overall in baseball and first on the Tigers.

Castellanos still has improvements to make like all players. His power numbers will increase over time as his place discipline improves. Castellanos had a strikeout rate of 24.2% and a walk rate of 6.5%. Those numbers will shift toward the mean as Castellanos spends more time in the Major Leagues. He always was an aggressive batter, but patience can come with time and coaching.

Castellanos would have received at least an A- for his grade on the season if he was not defensively inept. Castellanos was never lauded as a defensive prospect and the metrics showed why. Baseball Reference graded Castellanos’s defensive WAR at -2.7. FanGraphs rated Castellanos as a -30 for defensive runs saved above average and his UZR per 150 games at -19.1. Overall, FanGraphs rated Castellanos at the 3rd worst defender in all of baseball with only Dexter Fowler and Torii Hunter rated lower.

Overall, Castellanos’s season was a success. If he can take steps forward with his plate discipline and his defense, Castellanos will be a productive 3rd baseman for years to come for the Detroit Tigers.

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