Jason Castro was one of the few players on the Houston Astros who represented a feel-good story in 2013.
An underdog finding his way to a minor breakout this season, there was not only a fair amount of talk that the catcher was arguably the best player on the team, but even some buzz that he might find himself with more All-Star considerations than expected, especially given his .292/.356/.573 triple-slash in May that put him just behind Yadier Molina‘s .938 OPS for the month, good for second among catchers in the NL.
That story, however, has taken a bit of a wrong turn as the All-Star break approaches.
With just two hits in his last 17 at-bats, including Monday’s 0-for-3 performance in a losing effort against the Tampa Bay Rays, Castro is currently in the worst slump that he has seen this season. It’s probably what you could call a culmination of a number of little things piling together over the last month, as he has taken a definite step back with a .239/.306/.455 triple-slash in 98 PA over the month of June.
Sure, the power that carried him to his fantastic May is still there (four home runs, seven doubles), and even though there’s not a whole lot to complain about a catcher with a middle-of-the-pack .761 OPS, any hope that it would be the 26-year-old and not necessarily Jose Altuve representing the team in the Midsummer Classic has likely been all but distinguished.
The good news? For the most part, Castro only has the baseball gods to blame.
See, despite his disappointing average and on-base numbers, the under-the-hood numbers remain relatively strong for the backstop. Other than a slight dip in his line drive rate from 26.6 percent in May to 23.2 in June and an expected regression of his unsustainable 28.6 percent HR/FB rate to 16 percent, this is mostly the same hitter that the Astros saw last month.
In fact, considering that he’s striking out at a season-low 20.4 percent rate, good for a season-high 0.45 BB/K in June, you might even say that his approach is actually improving.
That is … if his .262 BABIP (.355 and .345 in April and May respectively) wasn’t putting a damper on the whole thing anyway.
There are a whole lot of things that the 2013 Astros need to turn a predictable lost season into one of future promises, but as far as Castro is concerned, all he needs is a little luck.