Washington Nationals

Starlin Castro and the quest to reach 3,000 career hits

Starlin Castro has signed a contract to play for the Washington Nationals in 2020. With that news, we take a look at his quest for 3,000 career hits.

The Washington Nationals have agreed to a contract with second baseman Starlin Castro that will add some infield depth to the defending World Series champions. This move figures to put Castro back in the spotlight; after spending his career with the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees prior to 2018, he spent the last two years in virtual anonymity with the Miami Marlins.

Now that he’s back on a contending team, his career again figures to receive some scrutiny. Castro will turn 30 just before Opening Day, and after collecting 337 hits during his two years in South Florida, he now is more than halfway to the magical number of 3,000, sitting at 1,617. So, can he get to 3,000?

Castro, a four-time All-Star, has 1,383 hits to go. If he were to play until he’s 38, he would need to collect an average of 173 hits per year. That’s a number he’s only reached twice in his career, last in 2012, so that will be tough. Or, if he were to play another 10 years until he’s 40, he would need to collect 138 hits per year, a number he’s reached every year of his career except one (2017 with the Yankees).

Of course, whether Castro can last that long is a big question mark, but if he plays and stays healthy there’s no reason to believe that he at least can’t come close to 3,000. He’s been able to collect so many hits because of his durability — he’s led the league in at-bats three times and played in at least 150 games seven times — and because he takes so few walks (hence the high number of at-bats).

Unfortunately for Castro, even if he does reach 3,000 hits, that likely won’t be enough to earn a ticket to Cooperstown. His career WAR to this point is just 18.1. If he were to maintain that for another 10 years, he’d reach 36.2, which would barely crack the top 50 all-time among second basemen; indeed, Castro excels in few areas of the game other than his ability to get hits.

A good player to compare Castro to in this regard is Craig Biggio, who got to 3,060 hits — and the Hall of Fame — largely on his longevity and his ability to stay healthy. Yet Biggio was a better all-around player and hitter; while he had nine seasons with an OPS over .800, Castro has yet to reach that mark even once.

This isn’t to downplay the Nationals’ signing of Castro; indeed, he’s a good hitter who should help the defending champions fill their need at second base. And it also doesn’t downplay the fact that it will be interesting to see whether Castro can indeed get to 3,000 hits over the next decade. If he has a couple of good seasons in our nation’s capital, I’m sure we’ll be talking about it more and more.

Next: Starlin Castro agrees to deal with Nationals

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