When a 2-for-5 performance becomes headline worthy, things have gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Things have gone horribly, horribly wrong for Starlin Castro in 2015. But then you already knew that.
Enter August 4, 2015. Castro is batting a head-scratching .236/.270/.301; Chicago Cubs fans everywhere begin to call louder and louder for his removal –everything from potential waiver claims, to just simply removing him from the everyday lineup.
Then, boom. Castro hits two —two!– RBI doubles as part of a 5-0 Cubs win and makes another slick play in the field to start a double play. Just when –maybe long after– you’ve prepared to give up hope on Starlin for good, that hope glimmers softly. Dammit. Doesn’t it always.
Two RBI doubles probably sounds like a consolation prize. Don’t misunderstand, it absolutely is, but it should echo just how disastrous 2015 has been for the 25-year-old shortstop. Castro’s two doubles last night were his 16th and 17th extra base hits of 2015. We’re in August!
That’s been the story of Castro’s season. Yes, the batting average is paltry; equally so the OBP, but the slugging has been particularly egregious. Castro was actually over the .270 batting average mark as late as June 21. Since, he’s batting .170/.204/.215.
Read that again: he has a .215 slugging percentage. Six extra base hits (all doubles, by the way). And two of those came last night.
The real question is whether or not this is actually some signal that Castro is about to turn things around. Despite the awful results, his track record should point towards at least a shred of confidence.
We get so bogged down in his struggles this year that we tend to forget that, despite his struggles, this is player who is approaching 1000 hits (942) at the age of 25. He still maintains a career batting average of .279 (it was .288 before this season), and his 2015 OPS is 137 points below his career average. As much as Castro gets (justly) maligned by Cubs nation, he’s better than this. It’s right there in six years of stats.
What’s also in the stats is an indication that he could very well be heating up –for real this time. Historically, Castro has been a sub-par hitter in the middle months of the season (May-July), with batting averages ranging from .256 to .269 –2015 has just been especially disastrous. Conversely, he’s been a .300 hitter in March/April (like he was this year), but he’s also been an exceptional hitter in August and September. His career numbers in August look like this : .300/.341/.426. In September, .289/.344/.400. These are better numbers than any other month for him with the exception of April. I have no idea how to explain that, but this is a pattern now six seasons old. It counts.
Castro is a frustrating player; there is absolutely no doubt about that. His defense continues to be spectacular on the glamorous plays and shoddy on the routine ones, and, as mentioned above, the man is hitting .170/.204/.215 across his last 36 games. No historical statistic trend can make you overlook that.
But there’s hope. And since when have Cubs fans ever needed anything else? Keep an eye out.