Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro made his debut May 7, 2010 against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati. His debut was a pretty good one, too: 2-5, HR, 6 RBI and a W. I initially thought Starlin was promoted too soon; a few sweeps at the hands of the then-lowly Pirates sent the Cubs into near-panic mode. Starlin proved me wrong though, finishing his rookie season hitting a solid .300 along with 3 HR and 41 RBI in 125 games.
This year, he’s been even better. Obviously ignoring the sophomore slump that has felled so many baseball players, he’s almost matched last year’s 3 HR, 41 RBI, 31 2B, 5 3B with 2 HR, 37 RBI, 21 2B, 5 3B…in 50 fewer games. While most Cubs fans want to see Starlin hit third, he’s better off hitting leadoff or second, for now:
(on Sunday morning)
Leadoff: (84 AB) .369-1-10 .398/.524/.922
Second: (84 AB) .381-1-11 .416/.488/.904
Third: (139 AB) .245-0-12 .272/.338/.610
Going into Sunday’s tilt against the Royals, Starlin was top 5 among all Major League shortstops in:
Batting Average (2nd)
Runs Created (3rd)
Runs Created Per 27 Outs (4th)
Total Bases (4th)
There’s probably been only one shortstop who’s been consistently better all season–from an offensive standpoint, at least–and that’s Mets SS Jose Reyes, who just so happens to be in a walk year. Still, Castro has been a man, with a solid WAR of 2.0, .324 average with runners in scoring position, .361 average with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, and a .316 average, HR, 16 RBI, and triple slash of .330/.439/.769 from the 7th inning on.
Castro is a 21 year-old, 6’1″, 190-lb phenom. He will most likely get bigger, which would bring added and needed power. Fans shouldn’t be surprised to see Castro at least near the 30-30 plateau in the future and if he beefs up enough, move to third base, where his agility and very strong arm would also be greatly valued. He is one of the poorer defensive shortstops in the league, statistically speaking, but he will most certainly improve in that area. He doesn’t take nearly enough pitches, and he won’t be able to get away with being so aggressive at the plate for the rest of his career…I think.
After all, I’m talking about a guy who signed as a 16 year-old and found himself playing one of the more demanding positions in the majors at the ripe age of 20. Arguably the best player in the entire Cubs organization, I’m proud to say that Starlin is my homeboy.
Why won’t Al Sharpton die?!