Starlin Castro Can Spark The New York Yankees Towards An Unlikely Goal
Adam Hunger-USATSI

Although many aren’t satisfied with New York Yankees’ second baseman Starlin Castro’s performance this season, he very well may – and already is – ignite the Bombers. 

No, Starlin Castro is not the star Robinson Cano was during his tenure with the New York Yankees.

Cano’s tremendous ability to change the complexity of the game on a daily may never be replicated but what New York’s newest second baseman has done is help everyone forget about the dreadful second basemen the organization tried to replace Cano with.

First, in 2014, Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew received a majority of the reps and batted a combined .210 while Cano was enjoying an All-Star appearance in the first year of his $240-million deal with Seattle.

Then, in 2015, Drew was the starting second baseman and pretty much stunk up the joint by slashing .201/.271/.381 with a dreadful OPS of .652.

It was the offseason of 2016 when general manager Brian Cashman decided to bring in a young second baseman with established success in the big leagues and did so by acquiring three-time All-Star, Starlin Castro.

In his first year in the Bronx, the 26-year old is slashing .262/.297/.422 with a career-high 17 home runs and 56 runs batted in.

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Again, he is no Cano but what fans sometimes fail to realize is that he happens to be the best second baseman since the previously mentioned superstar. Or, maybe they do. They j

Or, maybe they do. They just overlook that aspect because his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired. Which is plain ridiculous.

In 2011, the year in which Cano smacked 28 home runs for the Bombers, his O-Swing% – which calculates the percentage of pitches outside the zone that a batter swings at – was at a startling 40.5%, according to FanGraphs.

Castro’s O-Swing% currently sits at 36.7% this season with a career percentage of 33.5% compared to Cano’s 33.9%.

So yes, Castro chases a lot of pitches that are sometimes in the first base dugout. However, when you attempt to degrade the best production the Yankees have had since Cano was manning the position based on his plate discipline, it’s indefensible.

More than just being the best at the second base position since 2013, however, he can help push the Bombers towards their unlikely goal of making it to this year’s postseason as many are unaware of is that Castro is a notorious second-half monster.

In his career, his OPS in August is .779 while his September and October OPS is at an impressive .796 (the highest of any month) compared to his career mark of .724.

He owns a .271/.308/.393 slash line during the first half of the season and posts a .291/.331/.426 line once the Midsummer Classic concludes.

Castro was also an essential component to the Cubs’ run to the National League Championship Series a year ago by hitting .369 with an OPS of 1.055 and five home runs during the month of September. During that span, Chicago would own an 18-9 record thanks to 31 hits in 27 games from their second baseman.

Could it happen again here in 2016? Well, it already has.

In the first half of this season, Castro batted .256 with a .688 OPS while hitting just ten home runs and driving in 31 runs through 86 games. In the second half, so far, he is has increased his batting average by 21 points and has already yanked seven home runs with 25 RBI through only 37 games.

“Darlin’ Starlin’s” seven long balls here in the second half is tied for the third most in the AL with… Guess who? (Hint: it’s Robinson Cano).

Plus, let’s revert back to those who are worried about his plate discipline and inability to hit the breaking balls. Both of his long home runs on Monday night came off of two Cody Martin curveballs which could only mean that he is continuing to put that fallacy to rest.

If Castro can continue this fine burst of elite play into something grand and encounters a powerful finish to the 2016 season like he did a year ago, it could also mean a powerful playoff push for a team that sits just five games out of a playoff spot.

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