Welington Castillo Enjoys Power Surge

It’s highly unlikely that Welington Castillo was drafted in your shallow mixed league this season. And heck, he was the last pick in the 15 team LABR mixed draft. He wasn’t even the starting catcher for the team he started the year with and he ended up being a member of three different organizations by season’s end. And yet after all this, he still managed to earn the 11th highest value among catchers.

Heading into the season, Castillo had proven to be a respectable hitter and solid overall player behind the plate. But With Miguel Montero now in the fold and taking over starting duties for the Cubs, Castillo would have been wasted as a second stringer. So in mid-May, the team traded him to the Mariners for a middle reliever. Of course, the Mariners had a catcher of their own in Mike Zunino, who at this point hadn’t hit himself out of a job just yet. So naturally after recording just 28 plate appearances, Castillo was sent packing for the second time in about two weeks, when the team traded him to the Diamondbacks in early June.

Unlike the Cubs and Mariners, the D-Backs didn’t have an incumbent. The catcher position had been a sore spot all season and Castillo would ultimately only have to battle Jarrod Saltalamacchia for playing time. He soon went on a power surge, which lasted the rest of the season.

While his wOBA finished at almost exactly his career mark, which prevents me from calling his performance any sort of breakout, he did absolutely enjoy a power spike. His ISO jumped above .200, well above his previous career high of .153, while his HR/FB rate rocketed to 18.8%. And sure enough, his power output has followed his batted ball distance:

Welington Castillo Power

Last year, his distance increased marginally, as did his HR/FB rate. This year, his distance jumped about nine and a half feet and his HR/FB rate blasted off. He pulls the ball over 40% of the time, and has done so every single season, which is a good sign. He also essentially maintained his fly ball rate spike from 2014. So lots of fly balls + pulled fly balls + increased distance on those flies = power breakout. While I wouldn’t bet on a repeat since it’s difficult for hitters to hold onto their distance gains, I think it would be reasonable to expect him to again flirt with the 20 homer plateau, depending on his playing time of course.

Aside from holding onto much of his power gains, he should enjoy somewhat of a rebound in BABIP. While it would be silly to expect him to ever approach the .340+ marks he posted in 2012 and 2013, his batted ball profile should yield better than a .263 BABIP.

Castillo probably won’t offer much profit potential at your draft next year after coming off a 19-homer season, but I don’t expect him to be overvalued. If he starts the season with the full-time job, any regression should be offset by additional playing time.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Will be interesting to see how 2016 shakes out for him after a fade to end the season– Welington only hit out 1 HR in his last 16 games, ceding more equal PT to Salty. Do you see the Dbacks moving to re-sign either of them, or to get O’Brien working at C in the offseason?