With ups and downs in all areas, New York Yankees’ second baseman Starlin Castro has been the one controlling factor.
By Emmanuel Berbari
If the New York Yankees have a formal agenda, thanking Starlin Castro should become priority number one. Without their dazzling offseason acquisition, who knows where they would be.
The past seven games, the entire home stand to this point, appear to have provided a turning point for the New York Yankees. The offense has finally come back to normalcy with a nature of consistency, and the pitching has been good enough.
Helping keep them from catastrophe this whole time? Starlin Castro. Continuing to produce when they are afloat? Starlin Castro.
When the Yankees shipped Adam Warren to Chicago this past offseason, they were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Castro. He brought along with him a tremendous upside and lots of past success. To this point, the trade has money in the bag for the Yanks.
All he has done is delivered. Playing in 32 of the 33 games this season checked “everyday second baseman” off their list. Playing a sure-handed second base with tremendous range has served as an answer to whether he can play out of his natural position. With that said, his offensive production has answered the rest.
Feasibly, Castro giving the Yanks a shell of what he was last year would have been completely fine. Fortunately, he has gone miles further.
The 26-year-old has slashed .300/.344/.483 through 32 games with four jacks and 14 runs batted in. He has displayed sneaky power, particularly to the opposite field, that even the Yankees did not expect. Last night was a prime example.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Castro is he uses the entire field and does not get cheated; a plus formula for a plus hitter. As shown in the chart, via FanGraphs, Castro simply goes with pitches and does not rely on one side of the field to produce his success.
The Yankees’ front office was particularly looking for a right-handed hitter to space out the lineup and mash left-handers. Castro has fit that profile, slashing .333/.395/.538 in 18 games against southpaws.
For a free swinger that Castro is, you would not expect plate discipline. You would expect a lot of first pitch outs. Surprisingly, Castro has been patient enough to work favorable counts which has paid immediate dividends. He has worked himself into a “hitter’s counts” (2-0, 3-1, 3-2) in 47 plate appearances so far this year.
At this rate, he is on pace to homer 20 times, drive in 69 runs, double 39 times, and collect 177 hits. The Yankees have not seen the offensive production of that kind coming from the second base position since Robinson Cano.
Maybe it is just a perfect fit. A great hitting ballpark, a change of positions, new scenery, a potential winning atmosphere, and a chance to thrive under the radar. One thing is for sure, Starlin Castro will not thrive under the radar if he keeps performing at this high of a level.
When the Yanks were down in the dumps off a 2-7 road trip, he was doing his part. After a 5-2 start to the home stand, he is still doing his part. He is that controlling factor.
With a contract running through 2019 and an option for 2020, the Yanks have found themselves a gem in the middle infield for years to come. It is on the rest of the pieces to the puzzle to perform and turn this into something special.