Nicholas Castellanos and Nomar Mazara

I sat down to write a piece for fantasy owners who no longer (or never did) believe that Nicholas Castellanos has any more to offer than a stale cocktail of parts from each of his best seasons (2017 and 2018).  This recipe makes for a decent player, but not one where we can find much profit in at his current ADP (around 80 according to Fantrax).  I also planned to sell you on Nomar Mazara at an ADP of around 150 over Castellanos, and I’ll still do that, but the more I looked into Castellanos’ numbers, the more I believe he’s going to have the year we’ve all been waiting for.

Mazara and Castellanos each had what I’m calling a pre-breakout season in years in which they lost significant games to injury.

Castellanos played 110 games in 2016 and had a career year in almost all offensive statistical categories (including Statcast).  It was so good that he might have doubled his previous high in runs scored (42 in 2015) and achieved his current career high in home runs (26 in 2018) if he had played a full season.

Mazara only played in 128 games in 2018.  If he had played a full slate of games he would have reached career highs in home runs and runs scored.  As it was, he hit 20 home runs for the third year in a row and scored just three fewer runs than he did in 20 more games in 2017.

I looked at each player’s first three full years in the league, and though I can’t say they were the “same” player, the trajectory of their gains in advanced metrics associated with power breakouts are very similar.

In 2016, Castellanos’ hard hit rate went up to 39% from 34.7 (+4.3).  His barrel % went up from 7.7 to 14.4 (+6.7).  Finally, his ISO went up to .212 from .164 (+.048).  All of these were career highs for him at the time.

Mazara had similar incremental gains in these stats in 2018 which resulted in career highs for him as well.  His hard hit rate went from 37% to 43.1% (+6.1), his barrel % from 6.5 to 8.5 (+2), and his .ISO from .170 to .178 (+.008).

The table below includes three-year averages from 2016-18 for Mazara and 2014-16 for Castellanos for these stats plus Runs, RBI, HR, HR/FB, and Exit Velocity.

Runs

RBI

HR

HR/FB

ISO

BBE%

Hard Hit %

Exit Velo

Mazara

61.3

80.7

20

16,7

.167

7.3

38.3

89.5

Castellanos

48.7

65.7

14.7

10.13

.170

11.05

36.8

89.35

Mazara leads Castellanos in every category except ISO and BBE%, but he has shown incremental gains in both those categories in his three full years in the league.  I see a real breakout for Mazara this year.  The Texas lineup is good and he plays in one of the best parks in the league for hitters.  I know what you’re thinking.  And you’re right.  He’s was shifted on 157 times last year, which is more than twice as many times as he was in 2017.  I’m sure that trend will continue in 2019, but it’s doubtful he will be able to repeat his .396 wOBA against it.

Mazara seems to have another problem that Castellanos doesn’t; he struggles against lefties.  These struggles are well documented, but when we dig into the numbers they point to improvement.  Though his average against lefties was only .240 last year, it was up from .228 the previous year.  His wOBA was up to .299 from .267 the year before.  And his ISO more than doubled to .184 from .089 in 2017.  All that against twice as many shifts.

I’ll be absolutely giddy to get Mazara at around 140 depending on my roster at that point.  And for those of you who think we’ve seen the best of what Castellanos can be, do me a favor and don’t take him at 80 (more for me).  I’m still a believer in Castellanos so I’ll be taking him at his current ADP and maybe even reaching for him.

There’s a .300 average, 30 home runs, and at least 180 combined RBI and runs scored season in him yet, and I’m in the camp who thinks it could be this year.  Is it a somewhat lonely camp at this point?  Yeah.  But I’m sticking it out.   And, if he gets traded to a team whose home park isn’t a cavern where home runs become fly balls at worst and triples or doubles at best, then look out my friends…  Look out!

 

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Mike Clement

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Longtime fantasy baseball player. Husband and father (3 boys). Detroit Tigers fan. Lions (unfortunately), Red Wings, and Pistons too... @rotoschmo