clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The remarkable resurgence of Nick Castellanos

The most consistent player on the roster this year.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most pressing Phillies question of the off-season has been answered in an emphatically positive way.

Nick Castellanos is back.

You know, the good Nick Castellanos. The Nick Castellanos who signed a big free agent deal with the Phillies a few weeks before the start of the regular season. The Nick Castellanos who slugged 34 homers, had 100 RBIs and posted a .939 OPS in 2021 for the Cincinnati Reds. The Nick Castellanos we all thought would be a dynamic, right-handed hitting power bat in the middle of the lineup.

Yep, that dude is here now. And it couldn’t be more welcome.

Castellanos’ struggles last year are well documented and do not need to be rehashed at length, only to say his .694 OPS was the lowest of his career, his wRC+ of 94 meant he was about 6% worse than a league average offensive player, and there was real concern the Phillies had made a mistake signing the 30-year-old to a five-year contract.

To his credit, he contributed some huge moments in the ‘22 postseason run, but fans were right to wonder if his struggles from last year would carry over to this season. Happily, they have not.

In 65 games, Castellanos is hitting a robust .312, with a .358 on-base percentage and .498 slugging percentage for an .856 OPS that is higher than his career .804. In a lineup filled with streaky hitters, Casty’s consistency has been his calling card. Starting on April 18, when a 3-hit game in the first game of a doubleheader lifted his average to .308, he has not dropped below .288 since. And when his OPS fell to a “low” point of .791 on May 31, a torrid June has it back up to .856.

So far this month, Castellanos is hitting a scorching .436/.465/.744 for a 1.209 OPS, with 3 HRs.


After being their most disappointing player a season ago, he has been, quite simply, their best player in 2023. He is the one position player deserving of an All-Star nod, although there is still time for some of his teammates to rev the engines and join him at the Midsummer Classic, and there really isn’t an area in which Castellanos hasn’t improved from last year.

Nick Castellanos Peripherals 2022-23

Year BB% K% EV Hard Hit % HR/FB % wFB wSL O-Swing%
Year BB% K% EV Hard Hit % HR/FB % wFB wSL O-Swing%
2022 5.2 23.3 87.5 34.6 8.6 1.8 -1.9 43.6
2023 6.9 24.5 89.5 44.7 13.1 10.2 6.1 39.9

Castellanos’ walk rate is up 1.7%, his average exit velocity is a full 2 mph higher, his hard-hit rate is up nearly 10 points, 4.5% more of his fly balls are going for homers, and he’s drastically cut down on his chase rate, from 43.6% last year to 39.9% this season.

Of particular note, watch the location of the pitch he hit for a home run to dead center field on Sunday.

While it wasn’t out of the strike zone, Castellanos goes down to the very bottom of the zone for a pitch on the outer edge and golfs it out.

Last season, he may have gotten a hit on this pitch, like in Game 1 of the NLDS against Atlanta...

...but he wasn’t hitting that ball 420 feet like he did against the Dodgers. Was he hurt last season and just refuses to use it as an excuse? I suspect that could be a reason, but yet again, more reporting indicates he’s just in a different, more relaxed mindset this year.

Whatever the reason, it’s good.

He has also feasted on fastballs this season, something he didn’t do a year ago.

Last year, Castellanos’ run value/100 pitches on four-seam fastballs was 1.0, 91st out of 404 players with at least 50 plate appearances. This year, he’s No. 1. Perhaps more importantly, he’s dramatically improved against sliders, a true bugaboo pitch for him last season when he was at a -1.2 Run Value/100, 270th out of 287 players, and a -7 Run Value. We all remember how often he chased that low-and-away slider off the plate for strikes. It was maddening. Now, look at this year.

I terms of RV/100, he’s tied for 2nd, and is tied for 1st in overall run value against sliders. He has seemingly turned a huge area of weakness into a strength in 2023.

As to why all these things are happening, only Kevin Long, Rob Thomson and Castellanos can tell you. Perhaps there were mechanical fixes, perhaps there was, in fact, an injury, or perhaps it was all mental.

Whatever the reason, Nick Castellanos has been the most consistent and dynamic offensive player for the Phillies this season.

Just as we all knew he would be. Right?