Draft This, Not That: Should We Bypass Nick Castellanos In Favor Of Michael Conforto?

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Who would you rather own, Nick Castellanos or Michael Conforto?  Maybe part of the discrepancy is due to the thought that Castellanos will be moved, at some point, hoping that he lands in a more hitter friendly environment.  Whether that’s a part of the thinking or not, it’s obvious that Castellanos is currently the preferred option in NFBC formats:

  • Nick Castellanos – 88.50
  • Michael Conforto – 107.61

So why is it that we actually have Conforto ranked ahead of Castellanos, making him a no-brainer roughly two rounds later?  Let’s take a look at each:

Michael Conforto
It would be easy to argue that Conforto attempted to come back too quickly last season, as he started off slowly hitting .216 with 11 HR over 287 AB in the first half.  That stigma could be hanging over him, because in the second half he looked like the emerging All-Star he did prior to the injury.  Over 256 AB he hit .273 with 17 HR and 52 RBI.  The biggest changes were in his Hard% and HR/FB, which both increased significantly:

  • First Half – 33.5% // 14.3%
  • Second Half – 38.4% // 26.2%

Which numbers more closely resemble his breakout 2017, when he posted a 41.6% Hard% (he owns a career 38.9% mark) and 27.3% HR/FB?  He also showed improvement against off-speed pitches (his Whiff% went from 23.97% to 19.52%) while producing enough against southpaws (.249 with 10 HR), putting together the entire package.

Throw in consistently drawing walks (12.0% for his career) and the total package is there to be productive.  He has the upside of a .275 hitter with 30+ HR in the middle of an improved Mets’ lineup.  Outside of SB, he should be a strong producer across the board.

Nicholas Castellanos
Over the past two seasons Castellanos has shown plenty of production, which is certainly what’s grabbing people’s attention:

  • 2017 – .272 with 26 HR, 101 RBI and 73 R
  • 2018 – .298 with 23 HR, 89 RBI and 88 R

As it stands right now Castellanos is hitting in the middle of a weaker lineup and doesn’t play in a very hitter friendly ballpark.  Obviously if he moved to a better ballpark, in part thanks to adding 46 doubles last season, the upside is there for a 30+ HR hitter.  At this point it’s impossible to expect that, though it still could happen, as Opening Day is getting closer and closer and closer.

The big red flag is in his approach, which has never been strong, and was particularly bad last season:

  • SwStr% – 15.8%
  • O-Swing% – 38.6%

While it didn’t stop him from making contact (22.3% strikeout rate) or making hard contact (47.9% Hard%), is that something we can expect to continue?  Both of those numbers moving, as well as a dip in his .361 BABIP, and it will put him more in the .270-.275 range (just as he was in ’17).

Conclusion
So if they are going to sit around the same average with little SB upside, which player would you prefer?  The one who has already shown more power and hits in the middle of a stronger lineup (giving more RBI/R upside)?  Or are you going to speculate and hope that Castellanos is moved to a better situation?  That seems like an easy decision, Conforto is the way to go on an even playing field.  Being able to wait a few rounds?  It’s an easy call.

Source – Fangraphs

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