Tigers: Nick Castellanos and believing in the breakout?

Nick Castellanos had a career season for the Tigers in 2017. But, can fantasy owners believe in his success or what is a mirage?

The Tigers had a rough 2017 campaign, yet that was no fault of Nick Castellanos. Even though he got off to a slow start, he was easily the best Tigers’ offensive threat during the second half. But, can fantasy owners believe in his success?

Castellanos, like the Tigers, will enter the 2018 season in uncharted waters. The Tigers looks to be in rebuild mode after years of being a contender, and Castellanos will more than likely be heading to the outfield full time.

Castellanos played in a career-best 157 games last season, posting a .272/26 HR/101 RBI/.811 OPS line over 665 at-bats. His counting stats certainly benefited from nearly a full season of playing time, and he made the most of it even though he started so slowly.

Digging deeper into his batted ball data, Castellanos notched 25% LD, 37% GB, 38% FB, 45% Med and 43% Hard contact rates. The immediate stats that jump off the page are the 45% Med and 43% Hard contact rates. He ranked sixth best in the league in Hard contact, so it was not a surprise to see his power and XBH climb across the board.

He also saw his Contact rate jump to a career-high 74%, while his K rate dropped for the third straight season to 21%. He still only walked 6% of the time, but fantasy owners much rather he continue to square the ball and swing away.

Everything about Castellanos’ season seems legit. Between the near league-best Hard contact rate, and his ability to continue to cut down the strikeouts, there is a ton to like and believe in.

Castellanos’ swing is perfect for Comerica Park as well, and that was further proven through his HR chart last season. He had ten of his HR go to right field last season which allows his swing to play so well at Comerica as it is much more fantasy-friendly to those spots, as opposed to the spacious gaps and dead center.

One aspect of Castellanos’ game that does not pass the eye test are his league-leading 10 triples. He had 10 triples and 36 doubles, with his Hard contact rates continually getting better, as did his FB rate down the stretch, it is not hard to fathom that a handful of those XBH go for HR in 2018.

The Tigers’ lineup looks a whole lot better when a healthy Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are in it. If they hold on to Ian Kinsler and allow Jeimer Candelario to stick at third, there is still enough there for fantasy owners to trust that his counting stats will be there.

The hot corner offers plenty of options for fantasy owners, but only seven eclipsed the 30 HR last season. With Castellanos’ batted ball profile, a .270/30 HR/95 RBI line would rank him in the top-ten at third base and is certainly attainable.

Believe in his success, and do not overlook Castellanos heading into 2018.