Detroit Tigers: Willi Castro cannot return in 2023
The Detroit Tigers must move on from Willi Castro
The Detroit Tigers have a lot of roster decisions to make this offseason. Some will be tougher than others. But what shouldn’t be tough is the decision to move on from utilityman Willi Castro.
It’s quite simple. Willi Castro isn’t a good player. He can’t hit or field. He may have been better in the outfield than he was in the infield, but that’s not to say he was good in the outfield.
He chases far too much at the plate, and makes too many errors in the field. He’s just not a major-league caliber player.
Many people thought he could be something after the 2020 season, where he slashed .349/.381/.550 with a 154 wRC+ and a 1.2 fWAR in 140 plate appearances. But a deeper dive into his peripherals, such as his .448 BABIP, would suggest that he got very lucky that year.
He came back down to earth in a huge way in 2021, slashing .220/.273/.351 with a 71 wRC+. He was a replacement level player that year, with an fWAR at 0.0.
Defensively, he was a butcher out there. In 2021, he had a -12 DRS and somehow managed an outs above average of 0. It wasn’t looking good for him going forward.
He started 2022 in Triple-A, but was called up due to injuries. In 2022, he slashed .241/.284/.367 with a wRC+ of 86. He was better defensively once he started playing the outfield, when his DRS jumped to 2, and his arm definitely played better out there. But he still had an OAA of -1 in the infield.
He consistently ranks near the top of the league in chase rate, and never walks. His walk rate this season was 3.8%, a career low. His career average is 4.7%. While his strikeout rate has dipped the last couple of years, he still doesn’t hit the ball hard. His barrel rate was 3.5% in 2022, which is in the bottom 10% in all of baseball according to Baseball Savant.
Yet, for some reason, A.J. Hinch kept trotting him out there. There were times when he didn’t have many other options because of all the injuries, but for whatever reason, Hinch seems to like Willi Castro.
I guess I can see why? He’s athletic with good speed. He’s just 25 years old. He’s got defensive versatility. There’s a chance of a good player hiding somewhere inside Willi Castro. But if there is, we haven’t seen it—and most fans are out of patience.
If the Detroit Tigers are truly going to evolve as a franchise under Scott Harris and learn to dominate the strike zone, then players like Willi Castro need to go.