Comparing Hanley Ramirez’ rookie season of 2006 to the 2010 rookie season of Starlin Castro, Castro’s power numbers obviously trail those of Ramirez. In his first full year (2010), Starlin Castro had a decent .408 slugging percentage, slightly above the National League average slugging percentage (.399) for that year. Most of that slugging percentage was derived from his batting average, as Starlin managed a healthy .308 batting average, putting him more than 50 points higher than the National League average of .255. Castro’s slugging percentage was hindered by the fact that he just doesn’t hit for much power as he tallied a grand total of 3 home runs in 506 plate appearances.
Specifically comparing Hanley Ramirez’ rookie season of 2006 versus Starlin Castro’s rookie season of 2010, Ramirez had a .480 slugging percentage (versus .408 for Castro) while hitting 17 home runs (versus only 3 for Castro). Ramirez has hit for more power in the years since his rookie season – Ramirez has averaged about 25 home runs for each complete year he’s played (2006-2010) and sits at a total of 124 already in his short career. This places Hanley in the upper echelon of shortstops who hit for power in the Major Leagues, something Starlin Castro has yet to show the ability to do in his short career. But Castro is on pace to hit 7 home runs in 2011, so that makes him similar to Ramirez in that his power numbers are improving, but he is still far off Hanley’s power numbers so far.
Castro comes out much better in a comparison with Ramirez using strikeouts and batting average stats. In 2010, Castro stuck out 71 times in 506 plate appearances and is on pace for nearly the same number for 2011. In Hanley Ramirez’ rookie year of 2006, he struck out 128 times in 700 plate appearances. Hanley reduced his strikeouts in his following years as he became a better hitter, raising his batting average by nearly 20 points over time span of 2007 to 2010. Castro has seen a rise in his sophomore batting average as well, going from hitting .308 to .342 so far in 2011 (small sample of course). History has shown that batters who are good hitters tend to make marked strides in their batting averages after their rookie seasons. Hanley and Starlin are both good hitters, and their sophomore season batting averages have shown that they are on pace for great careers.
Will Starlin Castro have as much success as Hanley Ramirez?
Starlin Castro has shown already in his young career that he has the potential to be a top-notch hitter. He has great bat speed and can spray the ball to all fields. In addition, he doesn’t strike out often as he has shown the ability to track and make contact with tough breaking pitches. Early in his career though, the lack of power puts Castro a step below Ramirez. Baseball America’s Jim Callis has said that “his ceiling is more like Derek Jeter’s than Hanley Ramirez’. Ramirez has more pure speed and power than [Starlin Castro].” I would agree, with the caveat that we should wait a few years to see if Castro’s power numbers start to come around as he adds more muscle to his skinny frame.