In this sudden third base era of massive superstar sluggers exploding from the position led by Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson, and Manny Machado, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle if you are a tier or two below this special group. There were some decent to very good performances elsewhere at third base last season as well but these players flew somewhat under the radar when compared to what their All-Star brethren put forth. That is exactly what happened with Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos who had a career year in 2016 that got very little overall attention. Long considered a top prospect in the Tigers system, it took Castellanos a few years to find his major league footing as he hit just .259 and .255 his first two full season in the bigs. Castellanos broke through last season however as he posted a career-best .285 average and another personal high in home runs with 18 in 447 at-bats. While he didn't exactly light the world on fire, Castellanos goes into 2017 still just 24-years-old and with some more possible ceiling to tap into. The question now is whether or not last season was the best that Castellanos has to offer or if in fact there is more to give.
When evaluating Castellanos overall, there are some clear trends here. One is that Castellanos will never be a .300 hitter if he continues to strike out at the 24.8 K/9 rate he did in 2016. Castellanos has always been strikeout-prone and last year was right with his career norms which is not a good thing. In fact Castellanos should have hit around .255 again but he got some very generous BABIP luck to the tune of a non-repeatable .345 mark there. Castellanos has been more of a .320 BABIP guy; which while still in the lucky range; means his average is likely to slide this season. In addition, Castellanos has zero speed as he has a grand total of four steals in his last three seasons combined. So any average hit won't be offset by a push upward in steals. Also one has to wonder how much power is left in Castellanos' bat. Yes he did up his home run per game rate last season and that is not a total fluke as he continues to gain strength and seasoning. However he has never profiled as a guy who would be capable of serving as a consistent 25-home run threat so Castellanos' ceiling is not impressive there.
When you put everything together, Nick Castellanos looks like a very low-end starting option in 2017 fantasy baseball mixed leagues and more accurately is best served as a top backup option. The flash is just not there and Castellanos just doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well. Solid player but not a difference-maker no matter you how look at him this season.
2017 PROJECTION: .263 19 HR 70 RBI 65 R 1 SB