For the first time in his career, Starlin Castro is playing for a team with a winning record in late April. And the most criticized player on the Cubs’ roster is off to a good start in the field and at the plate.
Starlin Castro has hit safely in 14 of the 17 games. Castro is 23-for-70 with one double, two home runs, three walks and 10 strikeouts (.329/.356/.429) for a .785 OPS. Defensively, Castro has been as good in the field, if not better, then he has been at any point in his career. Castro made a game changing play Sunday that kept Jake Arrieta in the game and Joe Maddon from going to the bullpen in the sixth inning again.
Castro impressed Maddon and his teammates with the play he made in the field to take a hit away from Brennan Boesch, but according to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs skipper liked what he saw from Castro in the ninth inning just as much as his defensive play in the sixth inning.
Joe Maddon pointed out to the beat writers that Castro ran out a routine grounder in the ninth inning. Castro is playing the game right and Maddon said, “That moment bleeds into the rest of your game. Everything he’s doing right now, I always believe in the complimentary effects of everything that we do. And if there’s good baseball karma, he’s created that for himself right now by the way he’s gone about his business.”
Starlin Castro has stepped up his game this season. He no longer wants to be seen as a joke. Castro appears to be more focused than at any other time in his career.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon maintain that Starlin Castro is the Cubs’ shortstop this season. With that said, no one with the Cubs has ruled out publicly that he could be asked to move positions in the off-season.
Matt Snyder spoke with several of Castro’s teammates about the public perception that Castro is lackadaisical, lazy and not a winning player. Snyder reported that Jason Hammel laughed before responding to the question and praised him for his work ethic. Dexter Fowler said Castro is a “great teammate” and Snyder said he received similar answers from other players when he asked them about Castro.
Starlin Castro began his age-25 season with 846 hits, 154 hits shy of 1000 for his career. Castro has 23 hits in 17 games and should reach the milestone as long as he stays healthy. As Matt Snyder reported Sunday, Castro has a very good shot of joining a rather impressive club.
Only seven players in the expansion era (post-1961) have collected 1000 or more hits through their age-25 season: Alex Rodriguez (1,167), Robin Yount (1,153), Cesar Cedeno (1,097), Edgar Renteria (1,061), Roberto Alomar (1,054), Ken Griffey Jr. (1,039) and Miguel Cabrera (1,022).
Starlin Castro is as important to the success of this year’s team then just about every other player on the Cubs’ roster. While Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell are garnering the headlines right now, the Cubs have two players that have produced at the big league level in Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
As long as Starlin Castro continues to produce results and respect the game, he has a good shot at quieting some of his critics this season.