by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After breaking out in 2013, with a line of .276 with 18 HR and 56 RBI over 491 PA, a lot was expected of Jason Castro in 2014. Always a player who hit the ball hard (25.2% line drive rate), there was a lot to like. Unfortunately we witnessed a regression across the board:
465 At Bats
.222 Batting Average (103 Hits)
14 Home Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.286 On Base Percentage
.366 Slugging Percentage
.294 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The first thing to note is his big drop in average. His strikeout number wasn’t great in 2013 (26.5%), but it jumped to 29.5% last season. In fact he didn’t have a month below 27% all season, and hasn’t since June 2013. In other words, expecting a major change is a mistake.
When you couple the strikeouts with a decline in line drive rate, 19.6% in 2014, and the pitiful average is not a surprise. He did show signs of a better mark, as he was at 21.5% in the first half, but it’s hardly enough to make us think that he can maintain last year’s average. Remember he benefited from a .351 BABIP in 2013, a number difficult for any catcher to maintain.
His drop in power wasn’t a big one, as it was more due to a decline in HR/FB (16.5% to 12.4%) than anything. His average distance on non-groundballs was actually similar:
- 2013 – 270.495
- 2014 – 268.788
In other words, if he were to stay healthy (never a guarantee with him), a rebound could be in order. Does that mean 30 HR? Not likely, but 20+ is realistic.
Of course, you also have to wonder if his playing time could regress due to his struggles (Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi are alternatives). You also have to wonder if his time in the middle of the order has come and gone.
Remember, in 2013 he was a middle of the order bat as the team had few alternatives. With an influx of young talent, he easily can be slid down in the order. As it is he spent 146 AB hitting fifth or sixth in 2014, compared to 31 AB lower than fourth in 2013.
So, when you put it all together you are likely looking at a catcher with some pop, but a .250ish hitter (at best) who could struggle to amass counting stats. We may want to consider him a bounce back candidate, but I wouldn’t. He’s better suited as a second catcher in most formats.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps, CBS Sports