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Are Trade Rumors To Blame For Starlin Castro’s Slump?

By bullpenbrian at 06.16.2012 3 comments.

Starlin Castro is 1-for-17 on the homestand.

It’s not a frightening stretch by slump standards, but still very unusual for Castro.

Since making his MLB debut in 2010, Castro’s 423 hits are the most in the National League, including his NL leading 207 hits last season.

Castro also has the most multi-hit games (82) in the NL since the beginning of 2011, including (25) multi-hit efforts this season.

So it’s strange to see a guys who just hits, and then hits some more, struggle offensively.

But since the start of June Castro is hitting a paltry .203/.230/.339. He’s driven in but 2 runs and has 16 strikeouts vs. one walk. What gives?

Might the slump have something to do with Castro’s transition from batting third to second in the lineup? Perhaps, but his numbers don’t suggest it.

Maybe Castro’s struggles stem from the Cubs warning shot to former hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo three weeks ago–about the time Sveum moved Castro up in the order?

Did Jaramillo, in his efforts to appease the front office, disrupt Castro by suggesting Starlin adopt a more patient hitting style?

Or can we reason the slump is attributed to Bob Nightengale’s May 31 report in USA Today that claims the Cubs had placed Castro on the team’s trading block?

“Shortstop Starlin Castro already is a star at 22 but can be obtained for two impact prospects.”

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a player slumped under the pressure of trade rumors, and especially a young 22-year-old whose focus was called into question days later on a botched play in San Francisco.

It could very well be a combination of each scenario, or dare I say, nothing at all that’s effecting Castro’s play.

Sometimes players slump, even the stars, like Starlin Castro.

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3 Comments

  1. Mike Foster says:

    How about some numbers to clarify this. Like how many 1st pitches
    Castro swung at prior to 3 weeks ago and how many since. Stuff like that.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Castro on putting the first pitch of an at-bat in play this season is 12-for-38 (.316). That’s right at about 15% of his 268 at-bats.

      Maybe a more telling sign of an adopted hitting approach focused on plate patience is his strikeouts rate, which has increased each month: 14, 20 & 17 mid-way through June.

      But again, you never quite get the whole story through numbers. Numbers could mean many things depending on how we shape them.

      My eyes are telling me Castro is struggling with breaking balls, especially down-and-away. It seems he’s lost the strike zone some.

      Castro’s always been an aggressive hitter, so any adjustment to curb his former plate approach (if this is, in fact, the case) could take some time to develop.

  2. bullpenbrian says:

    Thanks for the comment, Mike.

    Checking Castro’s first pitch offerings could turn up some interesting results. It’s something I will look into further.

    As a side note: I’ll never be one to get too caught up in numbers. Stats can be, at times, deceiving or misleading–especially in baseball.

    Don’t get me wrong, you need the numbers for clarity sake, and statistics certainly has its place to help us better understanding the players and the game…or in this case, Castro’s slump.

    Personally, however, I’m far more interested in the people playing the game than sabermetrics, which I respect but don’t worship.

    For example, I’ve thought more about what’s plaguing Castro psychologically than his on-base percentage or anything of that sort.

    This is still a young kid growing up in a foreign country and performing under the bright lights, all of which interest me greatly.

    Of course, this isn’t the worse life (or slump) imaginable for a 22-year-old…but Castro still has some growing up to do both personally & professionally. It can be a lot to juggle for any young man.

    In time, I think Starlin will rise to the occasion. He continues to impress as a player and will remain a very important piece of the Cubs rebuilding plan.

    Now, let me see what I can uncover with his first pitch approach. Stay tuned!

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