Nicholas Castellanos’s Unique Breakout, Is Goldy Breaking Out, and a One Way Street

Knowledge Drop June 10, 2018 – Larry Walker Edition* (33)

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*Walker wore #33 for 17 years for the Expos, Rockies and Cardinals, posting a .313 career average, launching 382 HRs, stealing 230 bases, collecting 7 Gold Gloves, 3 batting titles, 5 All-Star appearances and an MVP award.


The Unique Breakout Season of Nicholas Castellanos

Usually a breakout season is easy to spot. A batter does things he’s never done; his new approach at the plate yields positive results; his homerun count soars.

Then there’s Nick, sorry Nicholas Castellanos.

So far, his “rate” statistics are career highs in his age 26 season:

2018 .326 .365 .504 .869 .371 135 48.5
Career .273 .319 .453 .772 .330 107 37.9

*as measured by Baseball Info Solutions

(wRC+ is a weighted run creation statistic, where 100 would be league average, so Castellanos is 35 percent above average this season, as opposed to just seven percent for his career)

So this looks like a breakout season, no?

Here are the numbers you don’t see above: Just 6 HR, in 274 plate appearances, and a BABIP of .406 compared to a .334 career mark. Last season, Castellanos launched a HR every 25 plate appearances; this season it’s one for every 46 trips to the plate.

Add to that his hard hit percentage, as measured by Statcast, is 38.3 percent (not the 48.5 percent as measured by BIS above), below his career average of 38.7. (I think we need a meeting with BIS and MLB’s Statcast folks.)

However you measure it, Castellanos is hitting the ball hard and he’s hitting line drives. He’s pulling the ball far more this season than in his career, so he seems to be jumping on pitches, particularly considering he is swinging at fewer first pitches as well.

Castellanos is walking only 4.4 percent of the time and he strikes out 21.9 percent of the time.  He is one of the rare hitters who has brought his FB% down over the last two seasons. It had grown in three straight seasons to a peak of 43 percent in 2016, but we’ve seen 38.2 and 35.4 percent in 2017 and 2018. His HR/FB rate is 8.6 percent this year, compared to 14.3 percent last season.

So what we are witnessing in 2018 is actually a breakout season for Nicholas Castellanos – the hitter. We are not seeing a breakout season for Nicholas Castellanos – the power hitter.

At least not yet.

Take a look at this chart, created by Jim Melichar, a data scientist who is (of course) way smarter than Big Mac:

Focus on the dark red and the two striped areas above it.  These are launch angles between 8 and 32 degrees – the best for HR output. Castellanos last season produced more batted balls in those ranges than Freeman, Arenado or Ozuna.  Ozuna, like Castellanos, has but 6 HR this year – his launch angles show us why.

But Castellanos is primed for a power spike.  So far in 2018 he’s made solid contact resulting in a ton of line drives.  And perhaps the most important statistic is that he is 26 years old, so that power boost is probably right around the corner.

We think Nicholas Castellanos is a legit .300 hitter now, and surely his BABIP and batting average will not sustain their current marks.  So we’d expect a “mere” .300 and we’re counting on more power, perhaps 20-25 more HR this season. See if the Castellanos owner in your league is frustrated with his power output thus far and try to swing a deal. We think Castellanos will be a top 50 Fantasy producer by year’s end, and despite his lofty average, you’ll never get him this cheap ever again.


We realize Paul Goldschmidt had a monster game last night and we hope he’s breaking out of his awful season.  But as Jim Melichar shows us, Goldy’s struggles have been deep and complicated:

Quick summary of Goldschmidt’s issues at home so far this year: 1) Groundball BABIP is .154 vs. career average .300 2) Tons of balls over 40° 3) Exit velo -4 mph on average, on balls hit at ideal HR launch angles (humidor) 4) Pull % is 10% on his air balls (mostly weak contact)

Follow Jim on Twitter, @JimMelichar7, and check out his data charts at


A truck driver is going down a one way street the wrong way, and passes at least ten cops. Why is he not caught?

Email your guess to

Tuesday’s Riddle: There are five bags of gold that all look identical, and each has ten gold pieces in it. One of the five bags has fake gold in it. The real gold, fake gold, and all five bags are identical in every way, except the pieces of fake gold each weigh 1.1 grams, and the real gold pieces each weigh 1 gram. You have a perfectly accurate digital gram scale and can use it only once. How do you determine which bag has the fake gold?

We didn’t have correct guess, which would have been “Take one gold piece from the first bag, two from the second bag, three from the third bag, four from the fourth bag, and five from the fifth bag. If the weight on the scale ends in .1, then you know the first bag has the fake gold. If the weight on the scale ends in .2, then the second bag has the fake gold, and so on and so forth.”


What do you call a pony with a sore throat?







A little hoarse

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