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Nick Castellanos to Reds - Fantasy Impact

The winter of the Cincinnati Reds keeps rolling on. They already added some pitching in Wade Miley, a journeyman to play shortstop in Freddy Galvis, a power-hitting monster in Mike Moustakas, and a Japanese leadoff man in Shogo Akiyama. Now, they have secured one of the top outfield targets on the market in Nick Castellanos.

The 27-year-old Castellanos will join the Reds and will finally have a home ballpark that will let his power potential flourish. He spent most of his career hitting in spacious Comerica Park as a member of the Tigers and then half of last season in Wrigley Field once traded to the Cubs. Now, playing in Great American Ball Park he will be hitting in a park that perennially finishes in the top 10 for home runs every season.

Castellanos is not one of the best defenders in baseball and he could really use the universal DH, but for now, he will likely man left field every day for the Reds. The signing of Castellanos makes a crowded Reds outfield even more crowded and we will have to see what happens with Aristides Aquino, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and Josh VanMeter. They all have minor league options still available, so that can be a quick fix. But for now, let's look at the fantasy impact for Nick Castellanos as a member of the Reds.

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Bring On All the Home Runs

Castellanos has always been a very good hitter as a member of the Tigers. Since 2017, he has hit .272 with at least 23 home runs, at least 73 runs scored and at least 73 RBI. These stats are great and all but they could have been much better. In those three seasons, he also had a .202 ISO which is awesome, but also crazy for a player only averaging 25 home runs. The ISO was aided by 140 doubles and 18 triples over that span. 140 DOUBLES!!!! Thank you, Comerica Park.

Comerica does allow home runs if you pull the ball, but from gap to gap it's one of the hardest parks to hit home runs in all of baseball. In the last three seasons, Castellanos has hit anywhere from 55.1% to 61.4% of his balls to center or right-field. The overall power output will change in Cincinnati where the ball flies out to all parts of the yard.

Once he came to the Cubs, his numbers blew up to a level that so many have expected from Castellanos. In the first 100 games with the Tigers in 2019, Castellanos had a stat line of .273-11-57-37-2, but in only 51 games with the Cubs, he was amazing with a stat line of .321-16-43-36-0. Castellanos was raking. The stats that fantasy players love were great but the advanced analytics were even better. With the Tigers last season he had a .189 ISO and a 105 wRC+, which are again not bad. But with the Cubs, he had an amazing .325 ISO and 154 wRC+. Castellanos was flat out raking.

He has always been a Statcast darling. Since 2016, he has had a barrel rate of at least 10.7% with an 11.2% rate in 2019. He has had a hard-hit rate of at least 40.5% since 2017 including a 41.4% rate in 2019. The great stat of xwOBAcon has also been superior for him since 2016 at .443. Imagine those numbers in a great hitters ballpark like Great American Ball Park. His career .333 BABIP will play in any park and is another example of consistently putting his hard contact in play.

The last comparison I will make for Castellanos’s time in Detroit vs elsewhere is his career numbers home versus away. In his career in Comerica, he had only 44 home runs over five and a half seasons. While his time in any other ballpark he hit 76 home runs. He has always mashed outside of Comerica.

 

What To Expect in 2020

As one can tell from above, Castellanos should flourish in Cincinnati. He is slated to bat fifth in the Reds lineup and he will be surrounded by one of the best-supporting casts he has ever had for a full season. With Akiyama, Votto, Suarez, and Moustakas hitting in front of Castellanos, he should have plenty of chances to drive in runs. The projections have him hitting 28 home runs, but I foresee over 30 home runs if healthy for the whole season. He should have the chance for at least 90 runs and RBI as well. Lastly, he will not hurt your batting average which is always nice for a slugger.

Currently, he is being drafted around pick 118. That number should rise and if you can draft him now at that price you should run. I would imagine we see Castellanos drafted in the 80 range come March.

Lastly, with Castellanos joining the Reds there will be questions on the playing time for the rest of the Reds outfielders. Akiyama is a Shin-Soo Choo type and should be leading off while playing all over the outfield. That leaves one everyday outfield spot available for a mix of Aquino, Senzel, Winker and Van Meter. All of these options have minor league options available, so one or two of these players may start in the minors. Aquino crushed when he was called up, but also struggled at the end of the season. Senzel is coming off of a labrum injury so his situation should be monitored in the spring. He and Van Meter can also be super-utility types, not just outfielders. Winker is an OBP machine and it would be hard to see him not being part of a platoon to start the season. For now, I would focus on Castellanos and Akiyama in drafts, but keep a close eye on Senzel and Winker in the later rounds if positive news comes out during spring training.

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