Starlin Castro is a very good and very consistent ballplayer. He’s not a "great" ballplayer, at least not yet, and he probably won't make the jump in 2013. Several years ago he came into the league with too much hype, and too many people expected him to put up numbers similar to the late-1990s shortstops, i.e., Nomar, Tejada, A-Rod, and Jeter. Starlin is a very talented young ballplayer, but everyone tone down your expectations a little and be content with a top-five SS who has shown consistent improvement, and will be good for around 15 HR / 70 RBI / .290 BA / 15 SB / 90 R in 2013. Reyes, Tulo and Hanley are the top three shortstops, but Starlin is a great candidate to finish ahead of any of those guys. He fills the stat sheet in all five categories and is likely to see a modest increase from his 2012 stats.
Most of Starlin's 2012 hitting sabermetrics lined up with his breakout 2011 season. His line drive rate in 2011 and 2012 were nearly identical at 20.1 and 20.5 respectively; he walked at the same rate, he whiffed at the same rate, and he even hit ground balls vs. fly balls at the same ratio. Basically, the decline in batting average in 2012 was due to unlucky bounces not going his way (sabermetrically speaking). From a power perspective, Castro’s HR total jumped from 10 HR in 2011 to 14 HR in 2012. And his AB/HR went from a meek 67.4 to a more modest 46.1 in 2012. Not Earth-shattering numbers, but a positive trend that should place him in the 15-20 HR range. And with all of his talent and upside, a 20 HR season is certainly possible if he can continue improve on that ratio.
Probably the biggest concern is his stolen base troubles. He had 25 SB last year but also led the NL
with 13 CAS, which is basically inexcusable for a player who also has the speed to hit 12
triples. For comparison, Jose Reyes also had 12 triples in 2012 and finished with 40 SB against just 11 CS. Bring Kenny Lofton to Cubs camp and teach this guy how to run. He’s never had a great SB/CS ratio, so you can be excused for thinking that he may never develop into a speed demon. 20-25 SB is a reasonable expectation, but there is potential for more if he can figure it out.
Starlin is the 4th ranked SS going into this year, and he will help you in all five standard hitting categories. He's a young and improving hitter, plays a big role in the Cubs lineup, and you can slot him into your lineup every day. Don’t expect him to dominate in any one category, but he's a multi-faceted player who will aggregate a lot of solid stats from a thin SS position. Starlin is a solid draft pick in Round 4 or 5, providing a good value with more room for upside than the top 3. If he slips further than that in your draft, RotoBaller recommends that you pounce! Starlin will be a consistent producer in 2013, and if he can finally put it all together we're looking at a potential 2nd-3rd round stud for years to come.
Be sure to also check out RotoBaller’s full Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings for 2013.