The past year has seen a major transition for the Chicago Cubs as an organization, both on the field and in the front office.
One of those transitions has been Starlin Castro officially taking over as the face of the franchise. Despite the fact that he can be extremely frustrating to watch at times, particularly in the field, there’s no doubt that he is a star in the making, and could be one of the game’s best at the shortstop position, if he’s not already.
Offensively, we know how good Starlin Castro is, and how good he can be at the plate. His average and on-base percentage were both down in 2012. He did see a bit of an uptick in his power numbers, with a career high 14 home runs, on top of the fact that he knocked in 78 runs.
Castro was also successful on the bases, swiping 25 bags, also a career mark. However, he was also caught 13 times. Admittedly, both on his end and from the front office, we have heard that his contract issues weighed heavy on his mind. Which could mean good things are in store for 2013.
With his new contract extension signed, sealed, and delivered, Castro can focus on improving his game at the plate. He should return to an average up over .300 again, and get that on-base percentage back up from the disappointing .323 it was this year. He was still a 3.5 WAR player, even with a decrease in those percentages, which means that number should take a nice little hop if he returns to his 2011 averages.
The bigger issue with Castro is the defense. It’s his glove that has plagued him since he came up to the majors. It wasn’t pretty again in 2012, but it was actually much better. In 2011, Castro’s UZR was a -8.7. That’s putrid. This season, he brought that number up to a -1.0. Working with Dale Sveum certainly paid dividends.
For Castro, it’s a matter of maintaining focus and continuing to improve. He has critics, both inside and out of the organization, that have commented on his ability to concentrate in games, particularly in the field. There’s no doubt that it’s an issue, and has also affected his defense, but that should come quickly.
Between a fresh new contract and an improving defensive game, we could see Starlin Castro take the next step in his career at shortstop and become a superstar in 2013.