In 2013, Jason Castro truly burst onto the major league baseball scene. After a decent 2012 season, where he produced a .257/.334/.401 batting line in 295 plate appearances, Castro finally remained healthy for an entire year. Over the knee injuries that cost him the entire 2011 season and a month in 2012, Castro produced a .276/.350/.485 batting line with 18 home runs as he made his first All-Star Game.
With that performance, it was expected that Castro would take the next step and cement himself as one of the better catchers in the American League. He was entering the 2014 season at age 27, about to enter his theoretical prime. Instead, Castro came back to Earth, hitting at a .222/.286/.366 rate.
That decline in production tied directly into Jason Castro’s results with the batted ball. While Castro hit line drives in 25.2% of his at bats last year, that percentage decreased to only 19.6% last year. Meanwhile, Castro saw an increase in his ground ball rate, from 39.5% to 44.8%, and an almost five percent increase in infield popups.
Overall, Castro and his backup, Carlos Corporan, combined to be a below average catching tandem, ranking seventeenth in OPS. A large part of that falls upon Castro, who produced an 83 OPS+, his worst mark outside of his 2010 debut. In fact, Castro’s .660 OPS as a catcher ranked 26th out of 28 players with 300 or more plate appearances, ahead of only A.J. Pierzynski and A.J. Ellis.
Now, Jason Castro may find himself at a bit of a crossroads. Is he the emerging star at catcher that he appeared to be in 2013, or is he the player of 2014? Or is Castro somewhere in the middle, a solid power hitting catcher, but not quite the emerging star it appeared that he was.
That may be the very question that Jeff Luhnow may be asking himself. With Castro eligible for arbitration, Luhnow may need to determine whether or not Castro is a player worth extending, if he can be part of the core to bring the Astros back to the postseason. Castro’s performance in 2015 may go a long way to answering that question.
Despite being an All-Star in 2013, there are questions surrounding Jason Castro. 2015 may be the year that the Astros truly know what they have behind the plate.