starlin-castro-batWell, that wasn’t a particularly competitive National Championship Game. Of course, that doesn’t mean the BCS “got it wrong” – without the BCS, Notre Dame may have played a lesser team in a bowl, finished undefeated, and been voted a unanimous national champion. That’s not me defending the BCS, mind you, and I look forward to the baby-steps version of a playoff in the coming years.

  • Yahoo’s Andy Behrens takes on a handful of pressing questions about the 2013 Chicago Cubs from the fantasy baseball perspective – but, buried within are interesting nuggets of more universal interest. For example, on the bounce-back possibilities of Starlin Castro: “Castro’s fantasy value dipped slightly last year, thanks to a 24-point drop in batting average (and a 29-point drop in BABIP), but he still finished at No. 85 in the overall ranks. Nobody lost their league because they spent an early pick on a 14-homer, 25-steal shortstop. Remember, Castro is actually seven months younger than Rizzo. There’s growth potential here. And even if Castro never makes the jump to the top tier at short, he’s already a respectable contributor across all five categories, relative to position averages. I’d be surprised if Castro’s batting average doesn’t climb back to the .300-.310 neighborhood this season, with his power and speed numbers holding steady. His batted-ball rates didn’t really change substantially from 2011 to 2012, so there’s no obvious reason to fret about last year’s .283 AVG. The guy can hit. He’s never been an on-base machine (.336 career OBP), nor is he a defensive whiz, so it’s fair to think of him as a player who’s perhaps more valuable in fantasy than real-life.” The fantasy stuff doesn’t much matter to me, but I do know that fantasy pundits are going to dig deep into the peripherals of the peripherals of the peripherals before forming an official position on what a guy is going to do next year. So, if Andy says there aren’t any reasons to believe that Castro’s BABIP dip last year was much other than bad luck, then I’m excited to see just how much better he can hit in 2013.
  • Former Cubs closer Lee Smith is trying to keep cool about his 11th time waiting on Hall of Fame voting results.
  • Carrie Muskat on Sammy Sosa and the Hall of Fame.
  • Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs educates you about that one time that Michael Bourn hit a 456 foot homer. Seriously. That happened.
  • Although sickness claimed last week’s BN Podcast, never fear – we’re on schedule to record tonight for publication tomorrow. Catch up on old episodes if you’re just breaking into the podcast thing.
  • Speaking of podcasts, I don’t watch ‘The New Girl’ on FOX, so I can’t vouch for this Jake Johnson fella, but he appeared on Grantland’s Andy Greenwald’s Hollywood Prospectus podcast yesterday, and, he goes into a long, insightful, and kind of foul description of what it’s like to be a Cubs fan. They start into it at about the 4 minute mark. It’s pretty great.
  • hansman1982

    “…nor is he a defensive whiz, so it’s fair to think of him as a player who’s perhaps more valuable in fantasy than real-life.” ”

    Am I justified in being mildly offended by this statement?

    • EQ76

      yes, I was too.

    • Rcleven

      Errors don’t help the rep.
      Take it for what it is.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, and the incident during the Quade Regime didn’t help…

        It’s fun to compare him to Ozzie and Jeter at this age and see how the errors are highly similar.

        • Norm

          well….nitpicking, but not so similar with Jeter who had 22, 18, and 9 his first 3 years.
          Castro has 27, 29, and 27 with about the same number of chances.
          Ozzie is closer, had 25, 20, and 24….but with over 500 more chances made.

          • hansman1982

            nitpicking further – Ozzie and Jeter were older than Castro at their debuts. It’s been a while since I actually compared them side by side so maybe I included minor league stats.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Jeter same age years as Castro would have been 1995-97. Jeter was called up at the end of 1995. Minors he had 29 errors and 2 in majors in 1995. 96 and 97 he had 22 and 18 errors.

              • hansman1982

                But but but…alright, I’ll just admit my memory was probably skewed by my Cubbie glasses.

                • SirCub

                  Well they did look really favorable over the first year or two, but after this last year, Castro showed no improvement, and that’s when Jeter started to show some. Whatevs.

  • Ben

    I think this will be Castro’s “breakout” year. We all know how good he can be, but I think this is the season where he really puts his whole game together. I think he worked through some adjustments last year, and the extension is signed so he won’t have to deal with that.

  • EQ76

    “New Girl” is flippin’ hilarious… good show.

  • ETS

    Notre Dame had one true quality win and that was stanford. They basically spent the year beating on weak big 10 teams (that was redundant).

    • EQ76

      um… 2 quality wins.. I’d consider the OU win pretty high quality.

      • Sweetjamesjones

        After that beat down that OU got at the hands of Texas A&M, I wouldn’t call that “high quality.”

    • Jim L.

      The USC win was quality also, on the road, even though Barkley was out, his replacement was more than capable and the Trojan offense is nothing to sneeze at.

      ND did what was required to make the BCS title game, they won all their games.

      • Brian

        Yep, they made it, thank you media and finally were shown for what they were. ND wouldn’t have made it past first round of true playoff system.

    • frank

      Oddly, according to Sagarin rankings before the title game, taken game by game, Notre Dame actually had a tougher schedule than Alabama. People forget that Alabama played such juggernauts as Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina and Auburn (yes, they’re SEC but they still sucked). I can’t remember where I read the article that broke it all down. Oklahoma still ended the year ranked 15th in the BCS final rankings. Last night, Nick Saban made Brian Kelly look like a Pop Warner coach.

  • Jackalope

    Castro 2012 BB/K ratio:

    Apr/May/Jun: 0.21/0.10/0.24

    Jul/Aug/Sept: 0.43/0.58/0.75

    I’m anticipating a breakout year at the plate for him, too.

    • SirCub

      Those are the numbers I like to see.

  • cjdubbya

    Good Lord, I love Jake Johnson. Mancrush for sure.

  • Norm

    I think we’ll see an increase in K’s, BB’s, and HR’s as he comes close to a 5 fWAR season. Thinking 290/350/450-ish

  • Blyth

    Glad that Jake Johnson interview made the bullets. I thought it was far too accurate. 2012 and 2013 are the not quite as hot rebound girl that you hope won’t break your heart and then she does anyway

    • cjdubbya

      All I know is that if Berken shows up holding the camera in my bedroom, I’m denouncing my love of the Cubs.

  • Brian

    So quick question, where do you see Castro’s ceiling, is it along the lines of Jeter or possibly along the lines of Tulowitzski. Somewhere in between? Just curious what everyone’s thoughts are?

    • Cedlandrum

      That is a great question. Jeter probably. He was a 13-20 hr a year guy, who hit in the low .310’s a lot and stole between 20-30 bags a year. I think I picture castro doing that.

    • Cubbie Blues

      His defensive ceiling is perennial gold glove. His ceiling on offense is probably low 20’s HR with a 350-370 OBP.

      • Rcleven

        I’ll agree on offensive numbers.
        Untill he get’s his head out of his ass he never sniff a gold glove.

        • hansman1982

          How many 22 year olds DON’T have their heads up their asses?

          • Rcleven

            At 22 I sure know I did.
            A lot of pressure last year. Alleged rape charge. Contract extension.
            Still has to realize he is a QB on the field and be there on every play and on the base path. As he ages those lapses have to be reigned in. Just has so much promise to be that super star.
            The errors don’t bother me. The mental do.

        • Cubbie Blues

          The ceiling doesn’t care what who’s ass his head is up. The ceiling is just there as a set limitation no as a projection. It is either reached or not.

        • Rcleven

          Where is that edit button? The mental approach does.

    • BD

      Purely as a CEILING, I would guess something like 300/350/500 or so with 30/100 and 30 steals, as well as in Gold Glove discussions almost every year.

      If he can keep his defense good enough to stick at short stop (or even if Baez does push him to 2B), I would be more than happy with a 280/330/470, with a threat at 20/20. That’s still pretty outstanding for a middle infielder.

  • Blublud

    I still don’t think it’s out of the question to see Castro make a huge power leap. I see this guy getting close to 30 HRs at peak. I use Headley as an example. Before this year, his career high in HR was 12 and his career tatal was 36. This year he hit 31. Considering he considerably older, Castro has plenty of room for growth.

  • waittilthisyear

    i would not be surprised if at some point, maybe his age 26/27 season, castro puts up a 320/25/100 season. never have tulowitszski’s power or jeters instincts, but he could put up numbers that mirror a hybrid of those two

  • svenerik312

    All Castro needs is some good, solid hitting around him so that the pitchers have to pitch to him and he will be fine. It’s what happens out on the field, not the plate, that worries me still.

  • cheryl

    I think we all agree that Castro is a very, very good player. Right now his concentration on fielding isn’t the best and he may not be a gold glove candidate until he’s more mature. This year’s fielding and batting average may be very much like 2012 maybe somewhat lower because he basically will be adjusting to a number of new players on the team. And, for him, it will be an adjustment.

  • Ross Wallace

    If you have the time you should check out New Girl, highly recommended. Jake is spot on in his analysis of a cubs fan.

    I have no worries about Castros talent (pure hitter that ran into some bad luck last year) but the mental side if things still needs to improve.

    See you at the Cubs Convention.

  • Kenster

    I see many teams are interested in Freddy Sanchez per Mlbtraderumors. I know hes often injured but other than Valbuena we dont have any utility guys and Sanchez when healthy has hit for great average. Do you think the Cubs are one of those teams in on him? Its another low risk good reward deal

  • Patrick W.

    On Jake Johnson: If you haven’t seen “Safety Not Guaranteed” you are missing a hell of a movie. Don’t read anything about it, just see it.

  • Njriv

    Everyone knows the MVP of the BCS game was Katherine Webb, A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend.

  • JR

    Personally, I think Castro is in for a huge year. I am really surprised I haven’t heard anything about Castro’s offseason issues last year as being a possible big distraction for him and effecting his performance. I know he got cleared, but it seemed like it was a pretty big deal..

    • DocPeterWimsey

      If that were the case, then presumably Castro would have been doing worse early in the season than late in the season: but the opposite was the case.

      Also, as Brett notes, Castro’s numbers were a BABiP phenomenon. In particular, he had a couple of months where the proportion of balls that he hit that went for singles plummeted. However, his XBH frequency did not deviate from a constant rate all season. So, he likely was hitting the ball hard just as frequently all season. Moreover, his walk and K frequencies never deviated from constant rates all season: so, he likely was not swinging and missing more often, or putting bad pitches into play more often.

      Why singles rates vary is anybody’s guess: really, it’s just up to how often grounders get through, bloops drop in, etc.

      • Leo L

        this is sligtly on topic. i was wondering if there was anything on streaky home run hitters like soriano. why is it that homeruns come on bunches. do the walk and K rates and xbh or babip or anything else deviate during these periods. any analysis on this. any theories why this happens other than the batter is seeing the ball better.

        • Cubbie Blues

          A lot of it comes down to timing. Soriano uses a big leg kick and if that timing gets skewed his power would drop off. Also, he switched to a lighter bat which quickened his swing.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I did something for a stats class with this years ago. It turns out that if you model home run rates not as a constant, but a distribution, then it becomes pretty easy to explain them. In particular, a log-normal (which is like a bell curve, except that one standard deviation up is X times more common and one standard deviation below is X times less common), then you describe month-to-month variation in HR rates really easily. A gamma distribution (which is used to describe groups of Poisson processes, which takes you back to high school stats!) also works really well.

      • JR

        Not necessarily. If the trouble in the offseason messed with his conditioning and training, he could have fatigued quicker once the season began. I have no idea if this screwed with his on field production, but I do know it really seemed like a huge deal at the time and maybe weighed on him mentally.

        • hansman1982

          You are both possibly not correct…

          Start of Season until June 23 (the midseason peak of his SLG (why SLG? I don’t know, I just picked it(although wasn’t this AROUND the time of the new hitting coach and the tweaking of Castro’s mechanics and approach?))) – .308/.321/.451 – .351 BABIP (.334 career BABIP)

          June 24 – Jul 25 (Why July 25? It’s the bottoming out of his SLG (Why SLG? Don’t you pay attention?)) – .186/.255/.289 – .188 BABIP

          July 26 – EOS – .291/.350/.461 – .321 BABIP (meaning these numbers may easily be sustainable (which if they are and this is his age 22 production – watch out for his ages 24-27 production)).

          I’ve long since forgotten what I am trying to prove here.

    • Rcleven

      Got to think the contract issue played with his head more than other issues. Cubs also asked him change his approach a little later in the season if I remember right.

  • Marc

    My guess for Starlin 2013:


    I hate being so optimistic, but I think Castro is awesome.

    • hansman1982

      Actually, that isn’t that unrealistic for Castro.

      • Marc

        It isn’t at all, but nothing good can come from the Cubs until an unspecified date.

        I’m thinking 15-18 HRs, 30-35 2Bs, 5-10 3Bs, 25 SBs…Basically a borderline breakout offensive season, though I think he can get even better.

  • Marcel91

    Ill take a slight dip in average if he continues to supplement his game with more walks and power. Castro isn’t even close to his prime and he’s already a top 10-15 Shortstop. This guy has a bright future and the deal we have him on will reach Longoria-levels of robbery.