Should the Cubs trade Starlin Castro?

Should the Cubs trade Starlin Castro is now the big question this off season.  Shortstops typically are the worst hitters of all non-pitching positions so finding one who can  even bat at an  average player level is a plus for any team. The table below lists the top 15 shortstops according to this data model. Note that the weighting factor this model produces is for batting only. Fielding is a different class object.

As always the first column shows MLB total rank amongst both batters and pitchers.  There are 27 other players with better WAAs than Troy Tulowitzki.   Ranking maxes out at 300 so a rank of X means that player sits in purgatory between the top 300 and the bottom 300.  No one wants to make the bottom 300 list.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_Tm Pos
28 5.0 0.340 0.432 375 52 71 Troy_Tulowitzki_COL SS
82 3.3 0.255 0.313 648 91 73 Ian_Desmond_WAS SS
85 3.3 0.283 0.369 512 71 64 Hanley_Ramirez_LAN SS
178 1.9 0.273 0.305 657 74 82 Alexei_Ramirez_CHA SS
220 1.5 0.278 0.321 642 68 77 Erick_Aybar_ANA SS
X 0.9 0.287 0.328 655 51 94 Jose_Reyes_TOR SS
X 0.9 0.246 0.305 416 40 54 Asdrubal_Cabrera_CLE SS
X 0.7 0.243 0.323 609 55 78 Jimmy_Rollins_PHI SS
X 0.7 0.241 0.307 616 61 74 Asdrubal_Cabrera_TOT SS-2B
X 0.6 0.269 0.323 342 33 44 Josh_Rutledge_COL SS-2B
X 0.4 0.246 0.324 564 69 54 Brandon_Crawford_SFN SS
X 0.4 0.263 0.336 628 75 61 Jhonny_Peralta_SLN SS
X 0.4 0.292 0.339 569 65 58 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS
X 0.2 0.278 0.300 100 9 14 Gregorio_Petit_HOU SS-3B
X 0.1 0.133 0.188 16 1 3 Carlos_Triunfel_LAN SS

Here is Starlin Castro’s career up to the beginning of the 2014 season.

Starlin Castro 2010-2013

Year WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_Tm Pos Rank Score
2010 -2.2 0.300 0.347 506 41 53 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS 113 -188
2011 -0.1 0.307 0.341 715 66 91 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS X 0
2012 -0.3 0.283 0.323 691 78 78 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS X 0
2013 -5.5 0.245 0.284 705 44 59 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS 10 -291

Career WAA BAT Value = -8.1

Career WAA Ranking Score = -479

He had a very bad 2013 and was the worst batter in the league.  Much of this had to do with a manager who insisted on making Castro lead off so he kept racking up more unproductive plate appearances than had he batted near the end of the order or sat out a bunch of games.   Castro batted above average with a WAA=0.4 in 2014 so that helps mitigate his overall career negative value.

Here is what WAR thinks of him.

Extended Stats

Year WAR AB HR SB Name_Tm Score RISP UR E
2010 1.4 463 3 10 Starlin_Castro_CHN 2 -1.4 9 27
2011 3.0 674 10 22 Starlin_Castro_CHN 182 -4.0 15 29
2012 3.6 646 14 25 Starlin_Castro_CHN 222 7.6 11 27
2013 -0.6 666 10 9 Starlin_Castro_CHN -147 -17.8 11 22

Career WAR BAT Value = 7.4

Career WAR Ranking Score = 259

WAR is a forgiving stat and even though Castro led the league in errors (last column) and giving up unearned runs, it still valued him quite high.  We covered WAA vs. WAR valuation systems with an analysis of the 2013 season here.  In 2013 even WAR had to drop him into negative territory.  The RISP column is runs above average in Runners In Scoring Position situations.  Castro led the league in having the highest negative in this category.

If the Cubs look at this model there is no question as  to the risk in keeping Castro around since he has demonstrated very high negative value in his career.  If a buyer, like the New York Mets, come along looking at Castro’s WAR numbers then maybe they will give away some decent talent in exchange for the Cubs’ mitigating some of the risk involved in keeping Castro on the roster.