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Believing that Starlin Castro Will Rebound in 2014

Earlier today, I was looking at trends and projections for some Cubs prospects and looked up Starlin Castro.  A trend immediately struck me: his 2010 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 is it we assume some good luck in 2010 and bad luck in 2013?

It should be noted that his BB% in 2013 was his career low, and his K% was his career high mark.  So can we expect some 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 looks 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.  This could also potentially explain the low contact rate.  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 garnered national attention as an upcoming star and 2013, it’s easy to dream about a bounceback 2014 season.  Only time will tell if that’s a reality, but I believe that Cubs fans have reason to be optimistic.

(I posted this earlier at the-billy-goat.mlblogs.com.  For more Cubs news and analysis, feel free to check out the blog.)