Inspiration struck me after reading Jeff Sullivan’s piece yesterday on how Christian Yelich could morph into Joey Votto with continued changes, or shall we say improvements, to his batted-ball profile. Namely, hitting the ball in the air more. As Jeff rightly pointed out, Yelich hammers the ball as well as anyone in baseball; it’s just that, to date, he’s done so much more often on the ground. You know who doesn’t have Christian Yelich’s problem? Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos has driven changes in his batted-ball profile, which were covered last May by Eno Sarris when he documented the change in Castellanos’ launch angles. Why should you care? Because he’s slowly morphing into Nolan Arenado, and now is the time to buy.
There have been only 10 players with at least 250PA each season since 2013 to grow their FB% year over year.
Then there’s Nick Castellanos:
To be fair to Arenado, hitting more fly balls isn’t the only thing that’s made him the home-run king of the NL (now that Chris Carter has departed to the AL). It’s been his meteoric rise in HR/FB rate as well. There are 10 other players that would fit nicely on this table with Castellanos, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. Chances are, you’re already well aware of the other players that would join him on the list — I’m looking at you, Justin Turner.
For fun, if we were to project out a full season of at-bats with some growth for Nick Castellanos, we get an interesting range of outcomes for his HR totals:
|HR/FB||40% FB||41% FB||42% FB||43% FB||44% FB||45% FB|
Much like the Yelich-to-Votto comparison, there are some things that keep Castellanos from becoming Nolan Arenado — namely his strikeout rate, which is 24.6% to Arenado’s 14.6%. This limits the number of balls he puts in play and thus the number of fly balls and homers he can hammer. However, with a little bit of health, growth and maturation in approach, we could see a 30HR season out of Castellanos this year.