2016 Sleeper Spotlight: Why Welington Castillo Belongs On All Radars

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It’s easy to overlook Welington Castillo’s recent surge in production, specifically his power, as he played for three different teams in ’15. Generally that type of movement would indicate a player isn’t necessarily wanted, but in this case it is a welcome distraction for fantasy owners. While he’s hit .237 in each of the past two seasons (2014 & 2015), look at how the power has started to blossom:

  • 2013 – 8 HR (428 PA)
  • 2014 – 13 HR (417 PA)
  • 2015 – 19 HR (378 PA)

At 28-years old (he’ll turn 29 in April), the growth is certainly not unbelievable. An average distance on non-groundballs of 278.936, as well as a favorable home ballpark now that he’s in Arizona, only adds to the appeal. Only 6 of his HR actually came at Chase Field though, showing the power is there to hit the ball out of any ballpark.

Maybe he doesn’t quite maintain the pace he showed last season (18.8% HR/FB), but with 400+ AB he should post his first 20+ HR campaign. Hitting in a solid lineup should yield RBI opportunities. Last season he picked up 57 RBI, so 60-70 is a realistic expectation.

Yes we all know that a low average power threat at catcher isn’t a great “find”, but is there the potential that the average improves as well? He doesn’t bring much speed to the table and the strikeout rate isn’t anything special (24.3% in ’15), so he certainly doesn’t profile as a source of a strong average.

At the same time he was hitting for a significantly better line drive rate earlier in the year, before completely fading late:

  • April – 23.8%
  • May – 25.0%
  • June – 20.5%
  • July – 15.4%
  • August – 16.1%
  • September – 16.4%

The early numbers were a much smaller sample size so we don’t want to read too far into it, but he’s also not going to produce as minuscule numbers as he did later in the year. It’s possible that he was adjusting to his new team, and we should expect better than a .263 BABIP.

All he needs to do is improve the mark to get to a .250 average, something that’s really possible, and there would be a ton to like. In fact, among catchers with at least 300 PA last season there were only three who hit 20+ HR (Brian McCann, Russell Martin & Salvador Perez). Of those Perez was the only one who did it with an average north of .240.

Think Castillo could fly under-the-radar as a tremendous option in all formats, let alone two-catcher leagues?  The power alone puts him on our radar and with the potential to hit just .250, he’s a potential fantasy force.

Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, Baseball Heat Maps

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