Detroit Tigers: The Improvement of Nick Castellanos
Ever since being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the 2010 draft, Nick Castellanos has been long been considered part of the team’s future.
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The third baseman finished eighth in in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, hitting .259 with 11 home runs, 31 doubles, 66 RBI and a .700 OPS. Additionally, Castellanos struggled on defense. He posted a-2.7 dWAR and earned negative marks in Total Fielding Runs Above Average (-28) and Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (-30).
Castellanos struggled at times at the plate and in the field as a rookie, but showed significant improvement in his second season.
Overall, the second-year player hit improved in almost every category. His batting average did dip .004 points to .259, but other than that he got much better. Castellanos improved his OPS to .721, collected 20 more total bases and drove in seven more runs. He also added four more home runs, and two additional doubles and triples. He increased his slugging percentage from .394 to .419.
These offensive improvements included a 17-game stretch in July when the Tigers’ third baseman hit .293 with six home runs, 17 RBI, three doubles and 11 runs scored in 16 starts (Castellanos came off the bench and pinch hit in one of the 17 contests). He also put up a .342 batting average in 129 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. Playing in an offense that consistently churns out runs and base runners, this can only help Castellanos.
In addition to the positive signs on offense, Detroit received significantly better defense from the team’s starting third baseman in 2015.
Castellanos’ defensive WAR was still in the negative (-0.6), but that still marks an improvement of over two wins. That’s a significant boost to the team’s defense. His other defensive stats vastly improved as well. His Total Fielding Runs Above Average went from -28 to -9. Also, his Defensive Runs Saved Above Average dropped from -30 to -9. Those numbers are still in the red, but they are significantly better than 2014.
Many top prospects adjust to a learning curve when they reach the majors. This was true of Castellanos. The better players can make adjustments and improve and that’s exactly what the former first-round pick has done. If he can continue to make improvements, he’ll has the potential to eventually develop into a middle-of-the-order bat who is a dependable defender at third base.
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Castellanos had great potential entering the league and has improved from his first to his second year. It’s a small sample size, but if he can continue improving from year to year, the Detroit Tigers will have a well-above average third baseman for the next decade.