Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos is beyond on fire right now. Even with the team struggling, he has been the one constant. So why is Brad Ausmus sitting his best hitter in national league ball parks?
The Detroit Tigers have struggled offensively this season. Even with the teams offensive woes, one player has not wavered. Nick Castellanos is finally having the breakout season Tigers fans hoped he would have and is producing the way many people in the Detroit organization thought he could when they drafted him. There is a possibility Castellanos is playing a bit over his head but if he is capable to even play half as good as he is right now all the way until July he will likely make his first All-Star team.
Castellanos is hitting so hot it would be foolish to sit him when he is one of the few Tigers players providing the team with anything offensively. Still Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has decided to sit Castellanos in Washington when the Tigers take on the Nationals Wednesday. If the Tigers wanted their best offensive lineup Castellanos should be featured.
Offensively, you get Cabrera and Martinez’s big bats in the lineup but defensively this lineup lacks a lot. Nick Castellanos has taken some well deserved ridicule for his defensive blunders in years past but he actually has a slightly better fielding percentage than Cabrera does at third base. Castellanos has improved every year in the field averaging -30 Rdrs (Defensive runs saved above average) in his rookie year and dropping that down to -9 the following season.
While Castellanos is no Ozzie Smith at third base, neither is Miguel Cabrera meaning leaving Cabrera out, especially with his sore ankle, would not be a terrible decision.
But many obviously want Miguel Cabrera’s bat in the lineup considering he could hit his way out of his slump at any time. That is fine.
So where else could Castellanos play?
During his time in the minor leagues Castellanos played the corner outfield because he was blocked at the corner infield spots were blocked by Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He has nine games of major league experience in left field where he was serviceable defensively. While left field is not Castellanos’s natural position the Tigers have a struggling left fielder on their hands in Justin Upton.
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Upton has yet to reach double digit RBI’s and has already struck out an astounding 51 times. His .220 batting average is third lowest on the team among starters, with Anthony Gose and Jarrod Saltalamacchia being the only players hitting worse. The Tigers’ $22M a year investment is off to a terrible start and could use a few days off.
If Upton was delegated to a bench role for the entire Nationals series I do not think anyone would have questioned the move. Using the same argument for moving Cabrera to third, moving Castellanos to left field for a few games means sacrificing some defense and replacing your weakest bat with your strongest.
For all those fans who want Brad Ausmus fired, you will point to today as one of his biggest mistakes should the Tigers lose Wednesday. If Upton goes 3-for-4, and Castellanos comes off the bench and gets a hit this will all be forgotten. Sitting Castellanos is a bold move but it is Brad Ausmus’ job on the line and we will wait and see if this move pays off.