The past few years, Nicholas Castellanos has felt like Robinson Crusoe stranded on the deserted island known as Comerica Park. Much like Crusoe, first he was captured by pirates (the rebuilding Tigers), then once shipwrecked on a deserted island (Comerica Park) with just a few animals (Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Anibal Sanchez), he had to survive in a harsh (the Tigers roster the past few years) and hostile environment (the AL Centra—oh fine that one doesn’t work) by adapting to the environment (hitting the ball hard for doubles and triples) but becoming largely forgotten by the world (the fantasy community because he doesn’t hit home runs). In the end, though, other ships show up (the Cubs, Rays, and Phillies) and rescue Crusoe (Castellanos) by striking a deal (at the trade deadline), and he comes home to discover unclaimed wealth in a new land (a park where he hits home runs!).
What, you think this is a flimsy metaphor? Look, the last time I read Robinson Crusoe, Michael Jordan was playing baseball. Work with me here.
The point of the metaphor is that since being stranded on the rebuilding Tigers, Castellanos has become fantasy baseball’s forgotten man. On the surface, it seems clear why that is the case. Here are his base roto stats in 2019 and what they’d look like prorated across the entire rest of the season:
While Castellanos would represent a value in average and runs, he’s currently an active detriment to your team in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases, so it’s somewhat understandable that people are down on him. Then, about a month ago, trade rumors started swirling around Castellanos with three teams (the aforementioned Cubs, Rays, and Phillies) now actively inquiring about his availability and a few others being speculated as good landing spots (Cleveland, Atlanta).
Castellanos is a free agent next season entering his age-28 season, and the Tigers are a long, long way from contending. There’s no good reason for them to not trade Castellanos while he still has value. Then, a few days ago, during the post-game, Castellanos went off on how Comerica has held him back and suppressed his value. This got me thinking: Is playing his home games in Detroit holding him back? If so, what sort of potential does a change in venue hold for the rest of his season?
If you have read much of my writing, you know that I have a long-standing interest in the thin line between doubles and home runs. I’ve written about how everything from the weather to dumb luck can affect whether a hit falls for a double or clears the fence for a home run. So when I saw Castellanos’ doubles total for 2019 I knew something had to be up. Check this out:
|Year||AB||2B||2B/AB||2B over 375 Ft. to CF (Avg Dist)||2B over 350 feet to LF +RF (Avg Dist)|
|2017||614||36||17.05||9 (393 ft.)||8 (367 ft.)|
|2018||620||46||13.48||5 (397 ft.)||6 (360 ft.)|
|2019||373||34||10.97||3 (385 ft.)||4 (369 ft.)|
That’s an insane amount of doubles. For context, 58 doubles would be the 10th-highest single-season total in baseball history! Call me skeptical that this is solely because of Castellanos having gap-to-gap power and nothing more. Once you take into consideration how many doubles he’s hit to center over 375 feet and doubles to right and left field over 350 feet, I’m starting to suspect that Castellanos is getting robbed of at least a few home runs every year. What about triples?
|Year||AB||3B||3B/AB||3B over 375 Ft. to CF (Avg Dist)||3B over 350 feet to LF +RF (Avg Dist)||Sprint Speed||Total Qualifying XBH||Total Qualifying XBH in Comerica|
|2017||614||10||61.4||0||2 (354 ft.)||28.1||19||7|
|2018||620||5||124.0||0||1 (391 ft.)||27.7||12||6|
|2019||373||3||124.3||0||1 (376 ft)||27.8||8||3|
So as you can see there was an abundance of extra-base hits that would have likely been home runs in most parks. And a ton of them have come in Comerica. Two of Castellanos’ doubles in 2019 were hit to left and right-center field for distances of 383 feet and 395 feet respectively. Here are their spray chart locations:
Let’s grant the supposition that both those balls would have left the yard in most parks at that distance. Do we feel better about Castellanos if had two more home runs at this point in the season? That would put him on pace for 22 home runs. While not ideal, it’s still a push in the right direction. Though I think there might be even more there.
What I want to do to provide further context is look at each of the individual parks of the teams mentioned in connection to Castellanos and evaluate them on three levels: First, I want to take a look at the park factors of each location and see how Castellanos’ season would look different to this point when you are solely considering the math. Then, I want to take a look at Castellanos’ pulled and opposite-field doubles and triples and see how they match up with the other parks’ dimensions, with some consideration toward the climate and elevation of said parks. Finally, I want to look at each of those teams’ schedules and break down how the remaining schedules should affect our expectations for Castellanos should he be traded.
Let’s get started.
So far in 2019, Castellanos has a near 50/50 split in his home/road plate appearances. But he has hit eight of his 11 home runs on the road, so we’re going to compare his home park (and potential home parks) and see if there are any suitors that might represent an improvement. There are five teams that have been linked to Castellanos, with the Cubs, Phillies, and Rays having actually inquired about him while the Indians and Braves have been repeatedly been put out there as logical destinations. Here are the park factors in each of these parks alongside Comerica:
|Citizen’s Bank Park||PHI||1.037||+0.012||.974||-0.057||.831||-0.091||1.035||-0.84||1.147||+0.205|
OK, so we can see from the numbers that while Comerica is pretty good overall for runs, singles, doubles, and triples thanks to its spacious confines, three out of the five prospective parks would be improvements for his home run numbers. So the next step is to take his numbers at Comerica and see what would have approximately looked like in the respective parks:
|Citizen’s Bank Park||PHI||28||14||0||4||.248|
For this exercise, I used 2019’s park factors that were up to date as of July 22. My thought process for doing so was I wanted to factor in the early season effects that tend to get ironed out over the course of the season. This way we can get an idea of how different issues such as cold weather or wind might have had an effect on Castellanos’ home numbers so far this season. I also figured this would be the best way to factor in the results of the new ball. We’ll do this at the end with 2018’s full year numbers to try and get an idea for the rest of the season in a moment.
For now, it’s worth noting that only three parks would have represented an upgrade over Comerica based solely on park factors. With that being said, even the single solitary home run those parks would have added still goes a long way over the entire season toward getting him over that 22-home run mark.
What about the second half? I think to figure that out we then need to switch gears and look at last year’s full-season park factors as that will at least give us a better picture of how the wam weather and raised humity affect the park. Here are the park factors from 2018:
|Citizen’s Bank Park||PHI||1.042||+0.097||0.980||-0.015||0.967||-0.062||0.879||-0.421||1.190||+0.323|
The yearlong view shows what a difference the warm weather months can make. So what happens if we pace out what his rest-of-season numbers would look like if we first prorated his 2019 season’s home numbers in Comerica and then used the 2018 park factors to see if any particular destination helps him out?
|Citizen’s Bank Park||PHI||21||10||0||3||.269|
So the Cubs, Phillies, and Indians would hypothetically be improved home parks for Castellanos to call home. What happens if you prorated and then add in his away numbers?
|First 180 Away ABs||28||19||2||8||.303|
|Prorated 130 Away ABs Remaining||20||14||3||6||.323|
|Home + Away Prorated 130 ABs Remaining||41||25||4||8||.288|
Here are those same prorated away numbers paired with each of the park factor-adjusted home second halves:
|+ Wrigley Home ROS||CHN||42||25||4||8||.303|
|+ Citizen’s Bank Park Home ROS||PHI||41||24||3||9||.296|
|+ Tropicana Field Home ROS||TBR||39||23||4||8||.284|
|+ Progressive Field Home ROS||CLE||42||26||3||8||.304|
So in general, pretty much every park other than Tropicana would represent a statistical upgrade the rest of the season over Comerica, while only Citizen’s Bank would represent a significant upgrade for home runs.
This is only the beginning though. To stop here would be shortsighted. For one thing, an event in Comerica isn’t universal, so simply using Comerica as the baseline for all these calculations might lead to inaccuracies. Proration and park factors are great ways to establish a baseline for prediction, but it’s too simplistic to simply pack up and call it a day, especially when it comes to home runs, which can often come in bunches and rarely follow a truly straightforward pattern.
The park and time of year also play a major role in this determination. Therefore I think if we want an even more accurate picture of what real potential getting moved might have in store for Castellanos, we’re going to need some spray charts, park dimensions, and weather data.
First, I want to start with figuring out just how many home runs Comerica has cost him that would have gotten out in these other parks and then try to use that data to adjust our simple prorated prognosis. I want to focus on pulled and opposite-field doubles because Comerica has some pretty deep walls down the lines at 345 feet in left field and 330 feet in right, and it gets deeper in a hurry as you head into the power alleys. As we’ve said before, this can lead to a lot of doubles that would be home runs, especially because in most parks, a pulled fly ball down the line is the easiest path to a home run.
Here are all of Castellanos’ pulled and opposite-field doubles and triples as shown on a spray chart, and then below I’ve listed the respective data for the relevant hits as well:
So I mostly want to focus on that cluster in the corner down the left field line and that far off dot in right-center. As promised, here is the data for those hits:
|Hit#||Date||Temperature||Humidity||Barometric Pressure||Wind||Distance||Direction||Launch Angle||Exit Velocity||HR in Wrigley?||HR in Citizen Bank Ballpark?||HR in Tropicana Field?||HR in Progressive Field|
|1||4/07||61 F||58%||29.9 “HG||10 MPH NW||383 ft.||Right Center Field||31||97.6 MPH||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2||4/21||60 F||49%||30.05 “HG||5 MPH S||325 ft.||Left Field Line||27||94.0 MPH||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|3||5/21||65 F||85%||29.80 “HG||8 MPH NE||324 ft.||Left Field Line||20||110.6 MPH||No||Yes||Yes||No|
So this is where we start talking about how the park has affected the starting point with which we’re working.
In Citizen’s Bank Park and Tropicana Field, Castellanos would be sitting at 14 home runs instead of 11 home runs. That would put him back on track for 23 home runs right there.
What about the weather data though? I point it out because all three of those balls likely would have been home runs in most of these parks if he hit them now as opposed to back in April and May. According to The Physics of Baseball by Robert Adair, you can increase the distance a ball travels up to 30 feet for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s 70-plus in Cleveland, Detroit and Philly are in the upper 70s, and Tampa is sitting at 80-plus. It’s reasonable to say if he hits those same balls in July and August, they’re getting out of all four parks most likely.
Barometric pressure and humidity can have a huge effect on how far a ball travels (the higher the pressure, the heavier the air, thus the ball goes a shorter distance), but it’s worth noting that is a pretty normal barometric pressure, meaning it likely had little abnormal effect on the hits. The wind was mostly blowing out on these hits, so that may have helped them.
I think when you consider what those hits might be if he were to hit them now, we could likely add a home run or two to the total given the time and where he may end up playing.
Before we make any final conclusions I think it’s important to talk about the remaining schedule. So far, Castellanos’ home/road splits have been divided up evenly, but is that still the case for his prospective new teams? It’s worth noting I started counting as of July 31, with the idea that he gets traded on that day.
|Team||Home Games Remaining|
It’s all pretty close as to be expected, but these numbers do put a bit of a damper on Philly as a destination. All in all though, for power, I hope he ends up in either Philly or Cleveland, even if they have fewer home games left. If I’m simply looking to make sure I get every last drop of production out of Castellanos, then I might hope for Chicago.
So what does all mean for Castellanos? It means that better days might be in store for him (and his fantasy owners) if he gets moved at the deadline. I expect he will be a solid home run hitter if he ends up in either Philly, Chicago, or Cleveland, and I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect at least 10 home runs the rest of the way as he gets adjusted to his new, more homer-friendly environment.
That’s before we even mention the fact that all those offenses will be dramatic improvements over his current offensive battery mates. The Tigers are the worst team in baseball in runs scored, while the Cubs are 12th, the Phillies 16th, the Rays 17th, and the Indians 20th, so they all represent a significant upgrade in terms of the sort of counting stat production we will see the rest of the season.
I think if the price is right (it shouldn’t be too high), Castellanos could be a great trade target if you get the sense that the owner is done with waiting for Castellanos to turn it on. He’ll never blow you away, but if he ends up on one of these four teams after the deadline, I think he will have his home runs boosted enough that he won’t hurt you anymore there and will have the batting avereage, runs, and RBI production to be a really valuable contributor on your team down the stretch and in the playoffs.
If he’s out there and available, I definitely recommend trying to pick him up for cheap and reaping the benefits.
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)