Yankees fans know by now that second baseman Starlin Castro has been the star acquisition for the team from their most recent offseason. The 26-year old infielder has shed the preconceived notions and doubts that surrounded him during his time as a member of the Chicago Cubs, mashing extra base hits at a high rate and creating runs at a high rate as well.
Is it the best first month of a season in Castro's career? It depends on where you look.
Castro has always been celebrated as a tremendous hitter for average during his career, so let's take a look at batting average first. It should be noted from the jump that throughout his tenure in the bigs, Castro has notoriously gotten off to spirited starts. In 134 games and 554 at-bats in March/April, Castro's average is a sizzling .316, the best mark for any month of the baseball season. Here's a year-by-year breakdown:
So 2016 doesn't make the mark but for the fifth time Castro has hit over the .300 threshold. It might not touch the scoring .348 mark in 2011 or the scintillating .310 mark he had in his first month in the majors back in 2010 (May), but he was still crisp at the plate and played up to his usual standards.
Now, Castro's year-by-year April slugging percentage:
So far we have a winner here in the SLG% department. Castro's mark of .488 is pretty comfortably ahead of everything aside from his mark of .471 back in 2014 and .461 back in 2011.
This comes with doing better in certain situations this year. He's hitting .444 so far this year with two outs and runners in scoring position, .300 with RISP in general, and .368 with men on base. Small sample size, obviously, but those marks are optimism-inducing after Castro had experienced variance in those departments coming into The Bronx.
He is doing well thanks in part to playing in Yankee Stadium. Through April, Castro hit .354 in 12 games and 50 plate appearances. He used the ballpark to his advantage, hitting four doubles and two home runs. Juxtaposed to his road average over .235, there's a stark contrast. Castro is no stranger to playing in hitters parks though, and he has the benefit of doing that often in the AL East. The NL Central houses PNC Park and Busch Stadium, both of which are far from hitters parks, so after he gains more footing, his road splits should improve. After all, his career road slash line stands at .284/.318/.403 which isn't far from his home mark of .280/.325/.410. So fans of Castro and the Yankees shouldn't be too concerned with this quite yet.
Lastly, here's his April wRC+, a measurement adjusted for park factors that looks at how much a player is creating runs. How has Castro done at the start of the season in this category?
Castro is off to a blistering pace in this category. Part of that is helped by where he plays as he's picked up a wRC+ to this point in the season at Yankee Stadium of 167 and 91 on the road. So, two opposite ends of the spectrum are in play here but whatever the case, the numbers do indicate that Castro, offensively, has gotten off to a better start than any season before, at least when it comes to wRC+.
Overall? It seems clear that, aside from batting average, there is a lot to like here from what we're seeing from the Yankees' second baseman. Run creating, slugging, and situational hitting are all important categories, and for the moment, Starlin Castro is doing all the right things so far.