Starlin Castro was once the top prospect in the entirety of the Chicago Cubs‘ farm system. These days, the still young shortstop is quickly becoming an afterthought as star-studded prospects begin to match, then surpass his promise. Mike Olt, Anthony Rizzo and even the still very much unproven Javier Baez all seem to have a brighter future than the Cub who hit .300 or better his first two years in the big leagues.
Now off to a 1-for-13 start to the 2014 season, Castro is looking like someone who has been figured out by MLB pitchers. It isn’t as if the awful start to the year, in which he has looked mostly lost and confused at the plate, is the only sample I’m going off of.
Castro’s once bright star has been dimming for the last few years. After a 2011 season in which he put up career highs in almost every category, including batting average (.307), slugging (.432) and OPS (.773), he has been spiraling downwards.
The decline was slight in 2012, as his average slipped to .285, but his slugging and OPS were only a few points below his 2011 numbers. He also stole more bases (25-to-22), and actually had more home runs (14-to-10), compared to the previous season.
In 2013, the Cubs were shocked to see a Castro who appeared to be a shadow of his former self. Not only did his average slip to an abysmal .245, but his slugging dropped more than 50 points and his OPS slipped by more than 100.
Castro, who had come to the Cubs as someone barely out of his teens, has gone from superstar in the making, to a light hitting shortstop who strikes out way too often (129 times in 2013) and almost never walks (just 30 times in just shy of 700 plate appearances).
Castro’s slow start this season could simply be due to him missing a good deal of Spring Training with a hamstring injury. It could also be a continuation of a player who hasn’t been able to adjust to pitchers who have easily adjusted to him. If that is the case, the speed in which the Chicago Cubs’ starting shortstop has worn out his welcome in the major leagues has been breathtaking.