This post was written on the suggestion of @BullpenBrian Twitter follower Stan Croussett (@MindofStan). These are largely Stan’s opinions with a few of my own contributions included.
If Starlin Castro is such a good bad-ball hitter, then why is the Cubs’ All Star shortstop batting .279 this deep into the season?
Is it a sign he’s regressed since his rookie season of .300/.347/.408, which includes his rookie-record of six RBI in his major league debut?
Such early success paved the way for regression to be easily expected in his sophomore season. And the mere fact Geovany Soto, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, slumped considerably during his sophomore season made Cubs fans more weary Castro might stumble in year two, as well.
However, the young Dominican shined during his sophomore season producing better numbers than he had the year prior .307/.341/.432, in addition to becoming the youngest National League player ever to lead the league in hits (207).
STARLIN STILL A TOP NOTCH HITTER?
Major league scouts remain adamant Castro will soon compete for a batting title. Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper & Bob Brenly echo those predictions while continually noting Starlin is a legit .300-plus hitter, no matter where he hits in the batting order.
But the difference we’re seeing this year with Castro, his third season with the Cubs, is his self imposed learning curve of laying off pitches out of the strike zone.
The new approach has steadily decreased the number of hits Castro use to get poking bloop singles to right field. But curbing his overly-aggressive attack is well worth the plate discipline he’ll gain as his god-given hitting talents naturally decrease with age.
More specifically, it will also help Starlin cut down on his number of strikeouts and further appease the Cubs front office that prefers its hitters grind-out their at-bats.
HOW LONG BEFORE CASTRO BOUNCES BACK?
It’s not unthinkable Castro could rebound in the final two months to raise his average to .300 or above for a third consecutive season, but that’s beside the point.
What’s more important is Starlin taking one step back to take two forward beginning as soon as possible and beyond.
Any worry with Castro’s development shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of Cubs fans; with nearly 1,700 at-bats under his belt we know what kind of super-talented hitter Starlin already is at age 22.
Instead, leave the worries to the rest of the NL, for once Castro gains a greater understanding of the strike zone he’s sure to terrorize the rest of the league.