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Starlin Castro’s Pursuit of 1,000 Hits Puts Him in Elite Company

This just in: Starlin Castro is good at striking baseballs with his bat and having them land in fair territory and not in someone’s glove. Sometimes I feel that goes under-appreciated, though I’m certainly doing my best to turn the tide. Likewise, Castro’s play of late has been silencing his chorus of critics.

Since his debut in 2010, Castro has essentially been a hitting machine who has averaged 169 knocks in each of his first 5 seasons. When you consider that he missed the first month and change of his rookie year, not to mention the last month of 2014 to injury, that average becomes even more impressive.




One could easily argue that last season was Castro’s best offensive campaign yet, as he hit .292/.339/.438 with a career-high .777 OPS to go with 14 home runs and 65 RBI. He’s off to an even better start this year, slashing .329/.356/.429 with a .785 OPS and a 19-homer, 105-RBI pace.

With the exception of the sink-or-Sveum 2013 season, Starlin has been a stalwart in the Cubs’ lineup and has put up hit totals that compare very favorably with those of many of the greats of today’s game. Below is a chart of this decades hits leaders; I think you’ll find that Castro is pretty favorably ranked.

Name G AB PA H AVG
Miguel Cabrera 798 2977 3452 992 .333
Robinson Cano 815 3149 3498 982 .312
Adrian Gonzalez 812 3095 3471 938 .303
Adrian Beltre 761 2932 3202 918 .313
Adam Jones 800 3165 3387 906 .286
Billy Butler 811 3014 3385 897 .298
Hunter Pence 794 3116 3409 877 .281
Andrew McCutchen 790 2925 3399 873 .298
Starlin Castro 757 3047 3259 869 .285
Nick Markakis 756 3028 3379 864 .285
Martin Prado 742 2985 3245 857 .287
Alexei Ramirez 805 3110 3327 850 .273
Elvis Andrus 787 3119 3515 846 .271
Torii Hunter 750 2902 3182 835 .288
Ichiro Suzuki 797 2911 3107 828 .284
Matt Holliday 752 2788 3215 826 .296
Jose Reyes 670 2790 3041 826 .296
Howie Kendrick 742 2864 3095 826 .288
Brandon Phillips 741 2951 3219 817 .277

Given the age and/or health of the guys ahead of him, it’s entirely possible for Castro to do in the 2010’s what Mark Grace did with the Cubs in the 1990’s. And no, I’m not talking about slump-busters and public intox violations; Castro could very possibly end up as the decade’s hits leader.

While it’s possible that he’ll cool off and settle in a bit after this season’s hot start, there’s still no reason to doubt Castro’s ability to collect another 150+ hits over the next 145 games. Doing so would push him over the 1,000-hit mark and would put him in some pretty rarefied historical air when it comes to hit totals for shortstops.

The chart below was filtered to include totals from 1876 and beyond and to include those shortstops who had not yet turned 26. Castro’s current total is shown in bold and his theoretical year-end totals are in bold and italics. This relatively conservative estimate figured a total of 530 remaining ABs in 2015 (600 total minus 70 already) and a .285 average (his career mark).

Name G AB PA H AVG
Alex Rodriguez 952 3758 4247 1167 .311
Robin Yount 1084 4212 4553 1153 .274
Rogers Hornsby 858 3184 3577 1073 .337
Edgar Renteria 990 3749 4196 1061 .283
Arky Vaughan 849 3164 3712 1057 .334
Starlin Castro 896 3577 3827 1020 .285
Cecil Travis 814 3055 3367 982 .321
Travis Jackson 899 3284 3633 969 .295
Elvis Andrus 914 3523 3974 959 .272
Cal Ripken 830 3210 3562 927 .289
Jose Reyes 755 3206 3485 919 .287
Dick Bartell 786 3075 3508 915 .298
Garry Templeton 713 2990 3114 911 .305
Starlin Castro 757 3047 3259 869 .285
Red Kress 757 2926 3249 866 .296
Jim Fregosi 844 3102 3488 859 .277
Cass Michaels 938 3222 3696 851 .264
Woody English 659 2689 3078 823 .306
Harvey Kuenn 620 2626 2835 822 .313
Alan Trammell 850 2897 3324 811 .280

I think that’s a list I’d be happy to be on at all, let alone in 6th place. I mean, to be 9 spots ahead of Jim Fregosi…woah. In all seriousness though, Castro continues to show himself to be a pretty elite talent, offensively speaking. And now that he appears to be more focused in the field, there’s potential for the “yeah, but his defense though” caveat to fade away as well.

And just think, this is a guy who has essentially been relegated to role player status and who could potentially be pushed even further from the limelight as young guys continue to develop. And I believe that might be in Castro’s best interest, truth be told. That’s not to say that he’s any less of a player, mind you, just that he’s not the guy receiving top billing.

With the focus on guys like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, and Anthony Rizzo, Castro can just bring his lunchpail with him each day and keep putting in work and climbing up the charts in relative obscurity. I think more people will gain a greater appreciation for what the Cubs’ young shortstop has done and is doing when they’re able to view his work from a wider angle.

Put in the proper perspective, you can’t help but be impressed in looking over Castro’s exploits. What do you think about that, Starlin?




About Evan Altman

Evan Altman is the EIC and lead writer for Cubs Insider and has proclaimed himself Central Indiana's foremost Cubs authority. He is a husband, father, homebrewer, and award-winning blogger with entirely too much pop culture knowledge. Evan's greatest accomplishments include scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson's Fast Break, naming all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan in under 3.5 seconds, and winning the Meese Literary Award at Hanover College. You can follow him on Twitter @DEvanAltman.

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