Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Blame it on a simple twist of fate

Today's Captain Obvious expose concludes, yes, Coors Field did juice up Castilla's numbers; not even Canseco can teach altitude

Barry Svrluga brings it hard!

Castilla is the proof of that theory, for his numbers at Coors are starkly better than in all the other parks in which he has played. Though he is quick to point out that he slugged 21 of his 35 homers on the road last year, over the course of his career Castilla has hit .334 with a home run every 14.3
at-bats at Coors, and just .256 with a homer every 24.4 at-bats everywhere else. Last year, even with all the homers on the road, his slugging percentage and batting average in Denver (.575 and .321, respectively) were drastically higher than either on the road (.493 and .218).

Coors Field: Nature's anabolic steroid!

Castilla's quote in the article indicates that, well, he's only in half-denial; according to him, Coors really helps you hit for average.

Bowden's perspective, though typically odd for his position as the guy who signs these dubious performers, is probably a wise one---just assume you aren't getting anything close to what the number indicate:

"Every number in Coors Field is skewed -- every single one," Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden said. "Always has been. Always will be."

The second half of the article devotes consideration attention to the perception that Castilla is a "better hitter" for having left Coors from 2000-03---which is to say, his approach at the plate is much more complete now. Let's give credit to those insights, but let's also keep in mind that his four years away from Coors produced rather serpentine results: horrible, okay, horrible, okay. So it's not like something just clicked sometime in 2001-03. And, really, his 2004 wasn't a stupendous "Coors Field season,"outside of the runs batted in---which, as we know by now, are very team-and-batting-order dependent.

So, yes, I'd still prefer one year of Joe Randa over two years of Vinny Castilla.

[On the other hand, Brad Wilkerson was on "SportsNight" last evening, and he specifically credited Castilla's leadership. Even though I'm not at all a "team chemistry" guy, I don't want to discount that factor.]

---UPDATE: Hey, another Captain Obvious Expose!

This one, in the Wash. Times, appears a bit confused:

The Nationals don't need Castilla to reproduce his 2004 numbers. They just need the 37-year-old third baseman to produce the kind of numbers he
consistently has put up over a 14-year career.

The first sentence is a reference to Coors Field. The second sentence references a 14-year career that includes 10 seasons in Coors Field.

Later in the article, the writer clarifies that he intends merely an average of all of Castilla's numbers since becoming a regular in 1995, expressed in seasonal notation: .281, 29 homers, 96 RBI.

Of course, there's nothing "consistent" about those numbers; it's a spackle-job of several Coors-inflated seasons, a couple of okay seasons (see above) and two of the worst seasons by a regular third baseman in the past decade (again, see above).

That said, I think I'd be pretty happy with .281/29/96 from Castilla, yes.

---Update No. 2!* completes the Castilla Trilogy today, with a profile that largely covers the same areas that the Post article did:

1. Castilla learned to hit away from Coors.
2. Castilla's a leader.

---Completely unrelated topic: Baseball Prospectus' top 50 prospects list came out yesterday (and it was free!).

How many Nats in the top fifty? Zero.

How many "honorable mentions"? Zippy.

Can't say I'm surprised---but I was rooting for just one, if only to gauge whether Prospectus still calls the team "Montreal."

* URL:

And, yes, I know Castilla hit 21 homers on the road last year (versus 14 at home). As the numbers Svrluga cites indicate, though, that hasn't typically been the case.
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