We have touched on Nick Castellanos in bits and pieces on the podcast and in those short snippets, been effusive in our praise and desire to own him. Putting it bluntly, we like that Castellanos is murdering the baseball when he is making contact. In the early StatCast data, Castellanos shows up as one the best in the league across several key indicators, which is reflected in the table below:
|Player||Avg Exit Velocity||Avg. FB/LD Velocity||95+ MPH Batted Ball %||Barrels Per PA|
If you prefer batted ball data to StatCast, Castellanos is making hard contact 57.6% of the time, has a 30.5% Line Drive rate, a soft contact rate of a mere 6.8% and is yet to hit an infield fly this year. For this work, Castellanos is triple-slashing .221/.287/.453 with 3 homers. He has a .286 BABIP. The results do not match the work that Castellanos is putting in at the plate.
At 25, Castellanos is on the verge of breaking out in a big way. The only red flag that I see is a notable, but not egregious jump in his K% from 24.8% to 28.7%, but even at that increased level, his batted ball data should be more than sufficient to give him a plus BABIP – he was .345 last year, .327 for his career, which would carry his average into the .265-.270 range.
In terms of situation and lineup protection, it does not get much better than hitting between Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera (when healthy). Even if Cabrera is in and out of the lineup, Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are good pieces behind Castellanos.
All the ingredients are there for a Nick Castellanos breakout. Paraphrasing Ernie Hudson as Winston Zennemore from Ghostbusters, he has the tools and he’s got the talent! The best news with Castellanos is that it has not happened yet. He might even be available in your league (Y! Owned 57%). If he is, get him NOW! If he is owned, throw an offer at the owner and even overpay compared to what he has done so far. If healthy, Castellanos is going to breakout in short order.
-I think Scott Schebler (8% Y! Owned) might put together a very similar season to the one that teammate Adam Duvall put together last year. Schebler’s putrid batting average (.203) might be overshadowing his early power output – 7 HR, which equals Duvall and Votto for the team lead. That average is the result of a ridiculous .170 BABIP. Now it is likely that Schebler’s BABIP will be closer to .275 than league average .300-ish because he is putting the ball in the air 53.8% of the time. However, he is not in danger of being Todd Frazier with a 7.1% IFFB%. Schebler’s FB/LD Average Exit Velocity is 95.8 putting him right in between two other flyball heavy lefties Joc Pederson and Rougned Odor, who were power breakouts just one year ago. Additionally, this number is higher than both Duvall and Votto, who had highly successful power season in the Schebler’s home park last year. I think Schebler could hit .250ish with 25 HR power, kick in 5-10 steals and good counting numbers the rest of the way.
-I guess today will be the Villar Village of Takeaways, but you need to keep an eye on a couple of low-end corner guys – David Freese (13% Y! Owned) amd Yonder Alonso (4%). Freese has been slowed in recent days by some hamstring trouble, but he’s hardly a speedster. Freese looks like a different player early this season – 14.9% BB%, 11.9% K%, huge jump in Contact% (87% up from 75% last year). While the batted ball profile does suggest that Freese has been a little lucky, he is showing some skill changes and he’s locked in the middle of the Pirates lineup as a corner man when healthy. Alonso finally realized that hitting groundballs as a slow first baseman was a poor career choice and in the first month, has posted a 50% FB%. Although the K% has risen (19.7% up from 13.9%), Alonso has traded some contact for authority with a 41% Hard Contact% and 4 home runs on the young season. He could pop 20+ HRs for the first time with a .270 average and decent on-base skills. The issue with Alonso is that he’s been sitting some against lefties, but if he keeps hitting, that could change.
-Although I am tempted to hold until the humidor is installed in Arizona, I think we should begin exploring the trade market for Robbie Ray. The Ks have stuck (11.41 K/9), but the walks (5.32 BB/9) and hard contact surrendered (45.6%) are both up significantly. Aside from Ray’s negative individual indicators, the Diamondbacks are presently last in defensive runs saved. The theory went that improved defense from the Diamondbacks would help keep Ray’s ERA and WHIP in check. It does not appear that the Diamondbacks have improved as much defensively as we may have hoped. I would also offer the same analysis for Zack Greinke and Taijuan Walker. You might want to see what you can get before things heat up in the desert.