Looking for bright spots in this defeated Detroit Tigers 2015 team and season is getting harder to do with each remaining game. In June, I wrote a piece lambasting third basement Nick Castellanos and arguing that he needed to be sent to Toledo for a remedial baseball lesson.
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Matt Pelc, one of our fine Motor City Bengals’ editors, often points out the hatred that Tiger fans seem to pour on Castellanos. I was one of them in June.
Arguably, Castellanos was one of few bright stars in the Tigers farm system and Tiger fans being what they are, demanded an immediate and huge contribution from the promising young third basemen. It’s taking him longer to bloom than most people have patience.
Let’s give Nick credit for turning his all-around game in the right direction and really maturing as a MLB third basemen. Looking back at my article in June, I pointed out several striking facts about Nick’s poor start: first, his slash and stats was abysmal at .223/.272/336 with only four home runs, 26 RBI and had struck out already 61 times; second, he swung too early in the count; and last, he just seemed to be forcing the swing to try to get on base.
After a 2014 season that saw Nick hit .259/.306/.394 with 11 home runs and 66 RBI as well as 140 K’s, the Tigers were counting at least that for his contribution in 2015. So when he started off slow, the hatred drums started beating.
But to Nick’s credit he really has turned his performance around. His hitting before the all-star game was .243/.287/.372 with six home runs, 38 RBI, and 78 strike outs! Castellanos got to work on his swing and patience which has made an impact steadily and quickly. In July he hit .258/.327/.495 and he really cracked the code in August at with a slash of .286/.310/.607. That’s a pretty amazing recovery. Since the All Star break Nick has hit .261/.335/.536 with nine home runs and 25 RBI.
What has Castellanos’ secret been? The key ingredient seems to be having more patience at the plate. Nick’s strike outs have rapidly declined, his walks have increased (16 since the All Star break with a month to go versus 19 for the entire first half) and he is getting to the pitchers count more often.
Another factor that seems to be aiding Castellanos is the fact that he has been hitting sixth in the lineup more frequently. When he bats sixth he hit .277/.340/.487 with 10 of his home runs (2/3 of them) and 31 RBI (50%). Another couple of interesting Castellanos stats is that he is hitting .323 with RISP with three home runs and 48 RBI and .529 in 17 at bats with bases loaded with two gram slams and 23 RBI’s.
Give Nick credit for making the adjustments that he has needed to make to get on track. It’s another aspect of the reboot that is positive heading into 2016.