Take A Walk on the South Side: Welington Castillo in 2019

In November I wrote about my frustrations with the catcher position in fantasy baseball, and highlighted my usual strategies for finding value in the sometimes desolate landscape of the position. While you can read that previous post to get a better idea of my proposed positional approach, I wanted to highlight one particular player who I am targeting heavily in 2019: Welington Castillo.

Castillo played in only 48 games in 2018, missing most of the year due to an 80 game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy. This suspension, his age (Castillo will turn 32 in April), and the addition of former Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann to the White Sox catching fold have all played a role in limiting Castillo’s ADP (currently 274.33 overall, 17th at the position), creating a rare opportunity to gain proven value at catcher in the later rounds.

History of Production

Since 2014, Castillo has been one of the best offensive catchers in fantasy baseball, slashing .255/.309/.454 with 72 home runs over the last five seasons. That production ranks well compared to his peers (Tied for 8th in HR’s, 10th in ISO), giving him a track record of strong performance over the past several seasons.

If we narrow the scope even further, Castillo’s quiet production really stands out as compared to other catchers. Here are his numbers in 2016-2017 and how they compare to his higher rated peers:

Name G HR R RBI SB ISO AVG OBP SLG
Gary Sanchez 175 53 113 132 3 .284 .284 .354 .568
Salvador Perez 268 49 114 144 1 .208 .257 .292 .465
Yasmani Grandal 255 49 99 130 1 .229 .238 .323 .467
Welington Castillo 209 34 85 121 2 .181 .272 .322 .453
Wilson Ramos 195 33 77 115 0 .188 .293 .335 .481
Willson Contreras 193 33 83 109 7 .216 .278 .356 .494
J.T. Realmuto 278 28 128 113 20 .150 .290 .337 .440
Buster Posey 286 26 144 147 12 .144 .303 .380 .447
Yadier Molina 283 26 116 140 12 .142 .291 .337 .433

As you can see, Castillo’s past production compares very well to the elite at his position until we hit his abbreviated 2018 season.

A Deeper Look at 2018

While he does come with his share of questions entering 2019, I think Castillo has the ability to return to his previous levels of performance based on what I saw in his limited 2018 production. Castillo slashed .259/.304/.406 with six home runs over 48 games in 2018. His numbers before the suspension were right in line with his usual production (.267/.309/.466 with six home runs) and would have placed him close to 20 home runs on the year had he finished at that pace.

While his batted ball profile changed slightly compared to 2017 (-3.4% LD%, +1.7% GB%, +1.7% FB%), it did not exhibit any extreme changes. His plate discipline metrics remained constant, showing no deterioration of skills there, and his expected stats based on quality of contact were higher than his actual production (.251 XBA/.309 wOBA/.462 XSLG).

Verdict

32 is older for a catcher, so Castillo could see a bit of a dip in production due to age, though that may not come this season. The acquisition of McCann means that Castillo will share duties behind the plate, though that should not limit him too much offensively as McCann was mainly brought in to improve the Sox defense against would be base-thieves (McCann tied for 2nd among all catchers in rSB in 2018).

Though Castillo comes with a few red flags, his potential for production is hard to ignore when you consider several of the catchers currently going ahead of him (Mike Zunino – 246.93; Willians Astudillo – 238.13; Wilson Ramos – 139.85). Consider targeting him in the later rounds of your redraft leagues as a good source of all-around production with limited risk.

 

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Hunter Denson

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Fantasy baseball enthusiast, Boston Red Sox fan and general lover of baseball living in the Pacific Northwest. More likely to remember Mel Ott's career HR number than my pin number. Married to an amazing woman who supports and encourages my baseball mania.

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