Statistical Belief in a 2014 Starlin Castro Rebound

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February 10, 2014 by Ryan S

First of all, I’m excited to be back following a long hiatus in writing since the middle of the August, especially with pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training in a mere three days!

I spent the past semester serving as the President of my fraternity, but with that time commitment now out of the way, I look forward to moving back to writing about the Cubs nearly obsessively.

First topic: Starlin Castro.  I was perusing fangraphs, looking at trends and projections for some prospects and looked up Castro.  A trend immediately hit me: his 2010 peripheral batted ball statistics are nearly identical to his 2013 peripherals.

Stat:      ISO         LD%        GB%       FB%      IFFB%

2010:   .108      19.5%      51.3%     29.2%     7.0%

2013:   .102      19.9%      50.7%     29.4%     7.6%

These two seasons are closer than any of his other seasons in batted ball numbers.  A key difference?  2010 BABIP was .346, 2013 BABIP was .290.  His career BABIP is .323.  So can we assume some bad luck?

Of course, it should be noted that his BB% in 2013 was his career low, and his K% was the highest.  So can we expect some positive regression in those numbers as well?

I think the answer is yes to both questions.  In 2012, his BABIP was .315.  Even if Castro could return to that level (right around his career average), he is much better than the .245 hitter we saw in 2013.

Additionally, his K% in 2013 was 3.8% higher than his previous career high, so I tend to expect a slightly lower rate in 2014 (though his contact rate in 2013 was also the lowest in his career, so if that is a trend, it is possible the K% could stay).

I’m still a firm believer in the idea that the past management, while trying to teach Castro to be selective and patient, actually taught him to take pitches for the sake of, well, taking pitches.  The numbers indicate that he didn’t learn to distinguish balls from strikes any better, and that maybe for him, the best approach is to swing at whatever looks good.

Given the striking similarities between his rookie season in which he hit .300 and this past season, it’s easy to dream about a bounce back 2014 season.  Only time will tell if that’s a reality, but I believe that Cub fans have reason to be optimistic.

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