Fun with Nick Castellanos' Big First Week as a Chicago Cub

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Fun with Nick Castellanos’ Big First Week as a Chicago Cub

Chicago Cubs

Before being traded to the Cubs literal seconds before the Trade Deadline passed, Nicholas Castellanos was slashing a solid, but unspectacular .273/.328/.462 (106 wRC+) in nearly 450 plate appearances with the Tigers this season.

After just EIGHT games with his new team, however, Castellanos season-long slash line has moved up to .284/.338/.493 (116 wRC+). Do you know how good you have to be over the course of eight games IN AUGUST to improve your wRC+ by 10 percentage points? Really freakin’ good.

Castellanos not only hit safely in all eight games he’s played with the Cubs this season (14 hits total), he’s got four multi-hit games and nine extra base hits (3 homers and 6 doubles) in 35 plate appearances. Altogether, that’s a .424/.457/.879 (239 wRC+) in his short time with the Cubs. Dude.

When the Cubs traded for Castellanos, we expected elite production against left-handed pitching, and maybe just average-ish stuff against righties with a little upside. And while he has been far more than just elite in his 9 quick PAs against southpaws, his productions against righties has been ridiculously impressive on its own:

v. LHP: 5-9, 3 doubles, 1HR, 1K (356 wRC+)
v. RHP: 9-24, 3 doubles, 2HRs, 4Ks (198 wRC+)

These are tiny, tiny samples, but who cares? We’re not in this (yet) to project how good he’ll be in the future. This trade was all about production *right now*. And right now, Castellanos is an absolute hitting machine. Last night included.

The Cubs managed a really great win in Cincinnati last night, but going into the game, I wasn’t particularly optimistic. After all, the Cubs were set to play a road series (yuck), facing a lefty (gross), against the Reds (pukes) in Cincinnati – all things that’ve stymied their progress all season.

But Castellanos was there this time, and he absolutely balled out for the Cubs (3-4, 2HRs, BB, 2RBI). I joked after he tried and failed to stretch his first-at bat single into yet another double, given that he’s contractually obligated to one double per game, and then Castellanos really delivered with not one, but TWO big blasts:

Before Castellanos’ first home run of the game, the Cubs win expectancy was 47.5% according to FanGraphs, afterwords it was up to 59.8%. But the Reds battled back and just before Castellanos’ second home run, the Cubs win percentage had trickled back down to 45.3%. Afterwords? Back up to 58.6%. Those were huge swings in the game and huge moments from the Cubs trade deadline acquisition.

It seems almost silly to care/point this out – not only because it’s a small sample, but also because, like, duh … – but Castellanos isn’t really getting lucky, either. He’s actually smoking the ball. During his time with the Cubs he’s got a tiny 32.1% ground ball rate, a fantastic 28.6% line drive rate and 39.3% fly ball rate, and beautiful contact:

Soft-hit rate: 10.7%
Hard-hit rate: 57.1%

Nelson Cruz (54.7%), Christian Yelich (51.6%), and Cody Bellinger (51.1%) lead the league in hard contact this year, and Castellanos with the Cubs has hit the ball significantly harder than each of them (obviously, they’re doing it over the course of the full season, but the point is to provide context for just how freakin’ hard he’s hitting it).

I still have no idea how long Castellanos can keep up this insane level of production, but it has been so unbelievably fun to watch. Good trade for the Cubs.

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami