As your fantasy baseball league’s trade deadline approaches, it is important for you to do a full assessment of the players you are planning to ride all the way to a championship.
Is everyone pulling their weight, and if not, are you expecting them to turn it around in the second half? The only thing worse than drafting a top player who turns out to be a bust is holding that player while blindly hoping he turns it around, or buying low on that player and never seeing the proper return. Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos appears to be that player.
When the Phillies signed Castellanos to a five-year, $100 million contract back in March, expectations ran high, both in reality and fantasy baseball. The veteran slugger was coming off a career-best year, in which he batted .309 with 34 home runs, 100 RBIs and 95 runs scored for the Reds. He was leaving the friendly confines of Great American Ballpark, but he was still going to a hitter’s park in Philadelphia with a much stronger surrounding lineup. Unfortunately, he has failed to meet expectations thus far, and it doesn’t look good for a turnaround.
Through 98 games this season, Castellanos has a slash line of just .251/.295/.368 with just eight home runs and 47 RBIs. His walk rate is down, his strikeout rate is up, and his isolated power mark (ISO), which tracks extra-base hits and homers, is at .117, which is well below league average and the lowest of his career. A look into his batted-ball data paints an even more grim picture, as his barrel rate is down to just 7 percent thanks to an increasing number of ground balls he is mashing into the dirt.
When looking for a player to turn things around, you look for statistical anomalies in the data. Is his BABIP unusually low? If so, he could just be unlucky. What about his line drive rate? Sadly, though some of Castellanos’ numbers have dipped, there is nothing outlandish to indicate a turnaround. In fact, the numbers that are “off” are things like his chase rate (down almost seven points) and his batting average and slugging percentage against breaking balls.
It is very difficult to jettison a player of Castellanos’ stature after a bad first half, but he does not look like the same hitter we saw last year. Oftentimes, players need a year to readjust to their new surroundings, and it looks like he fits that mold. If you have him, trade him to someone who still believes. If you don’t, quietly reject those trades and continue down your own path.