Back in the 1990s, it would have sufficed to say that fans of Detroit Tigers baseball had little to cheer about. The Tigers did, however, have a powerful pair of corner infielders in Cecil Fielder and Travis Fryman who were able to provide at least some semblance of excitement for a good portion of the decade.
In 1991, a 22-year-old Fryman boasted a slash line of .259/.309/.447 with 21 home runs and 91 RBIs, while splitting time between shortstop and third base. Now, 23 years later, the Tigers have another 22-year-old third baseman in Nick Castellanos who might finish the season with similar numbers.
Castellanos currently has a line of .248/.275/.416 with four home runs, five doubles and 19 RBIs. According to ESPN, he is projected to finish the season with 21 home runs and 99 RBIs. Granted, there is no guarantee that Castellanos will stay on his current pace, but those are numbers that would look eerily similar to the statistics Fryman posted at the age of 22.
Castellanos is also on pace to strike out 120 times this season, which is something that Fryman struggled with as well. Fryman exceeded 100 strikeouts nine times in his 13-year playing career, which is quite normal for a power hitter.
In addition to having a rather high strikeout rate, Castellanos also has a relatively low batting average as well as a low on-base percentage, just as Fryman did at the age of 22. In 1991, Fryman drew only 40 walks through 612 plate appearances, and Castellanos has drawn just four walks through 109 plate appearances thus far in 2014.
However, as Fryman matured, he learned how to hit for more average and became more patient at the plate. He ended up batting over .300 twice and posted OBPs of .340 or better on five separate occasions during his 13-year career. Castellanos will likely evolve in a similar fashion, as he appears to be a player who will learn average after power.
Castellanos and Fryman may not be a perfect comparison on all fronts, though. Castellanos, of course, never played shortstop at the professional level as Fryman did, and Castellanos actually had a far more impressive minor league career than Fryman. Castellanos’ swing also seems powerful enough where one day, who knows, we could perhaps be comparing him to Mike Schmidt.
However, at this point, it does appear that Castellanos may be on his way to putting up numbers that are akin to the numbers that Fryman posted at the same age, and the Tigers would undoubtedly be thrilled if he could do so.