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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: NICK CASTELLANOS 3B DETROIT TIGERS

Sometimes in fantasy baseball, certain players grow on yours truly.  While I often am firm in my like or dislike with various hitters or pitchers from around the game, there are instances where I will change my opinion on a guy based on such factors as being a late bloomer, a sagging draft price, or a change in location.  One such player who fills this heading for me in regards to 2018 fantasy baseball is Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos.  Yes the same Nick Castellanos that I have criticized on a number of occasions on this site and showed little interest in owning previously.  Alas, that line of thinking has changed and now I am actively looking to bring Castellanos aboard my fantasy baseball rosters this spring.  In fact, when everyone else is chasing Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant in Round 1 of drafts, I will be stocking up elsewhere and look toward Castellanos in the middle rounds.  Here is why:

First off, it needs to be said that Castellanos was once the 12th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft which means he has carried some big pedigree with him to the majors.  It also needs to be said that Castellanos was rushed to the majors in debuting at the age of 21 in 2013.  That is very young for a hitter who often has a longer learning curve than a pitcher and it showed early on as Castellanos struggled badly with strikeouts (K/9 above 24.0 each year from 2014-16) and the power capped at a modest 18 homers in 2016.  It seemed Castellanos was destined to be more of a backup third baseman in mixers and a starter just in AL-only formats going forward as a result of his mediocre hitting.  Well that all changed in 2017 as Castellanos improved almost across the board in piling up the following numbers:

.272
26 HR
101 RBI
73 R
4 SB

The power really stands out there as Castellanos was especially hot in the second half (.299-16-55) which seemed to hint that the proverbial light bulb had gone of in a major way.  Castellanos also checked out nicely in the advanced realm as his 21.4 K/9 was a career-best by far and way down from a 24.8 mark the year prior.  Finally, Castellanos carried a 43 percent "hard hit" rate that was fifth in all of baseball and further suggests a run to 30 home runs is very much in play this season.  All for the cost of a middle round pick.

In looking ahead to 2018 fantasy baseball, Castellanos will only be 26 when the games get underway and so he is really just reaching his prime years now.  With the average likely heading for a .280 mark given the declining K rate, Castellanos could be in line for further improvement across the board this season.  Highly recommended.

2018 PROJECTION:  .279 28 HR 95 RBI 75 R 4 SB  


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