A Hard Look at Jose Castillo – 2006 Errors
This is Part II of the Hard Look at Jose Castillo series. Part I is here: [link].
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article today where they speculated whether or not the 2007 team would be better defensively than last year’s team [link]. One of the statements made in the article by the Pirates beat reporter was:
"Assuming Jose Castillo keeps his job at second base, it is hard to imagine him making 18 errors again, including, amazingly for someone at his position, 15 on throws."
First, the reporter’s statement is factually incorrect — Castillo had three throwing errors last year. I assume the reporter just read his notes wrong. Jack Wilson actually had 3 times as many throwing errors as Jose Castillo did.
Secondly, while we know Castillo made 18 errors last year, nobody seems to know what kind of errors they were. And more importantly, if the errors were the type that any second baseman should have made or not.
Only five second baseman in MLB had 700 or more total chances last year and they averaged 16 errors each, with just one player having less than 14.
Castillo had 8 ground ball errors of the 18 he made — that’s 44%, which ranked him in the 46th percentile of all qualified second baseman (# of Error Type/# Errors Overall). So, in fact, he wasn’t among the worst second basemen fielding ground balls in baseball last year as had been speculated by one writer [link].
Of the eight ground ball fielding errors Castillo made, five were routine grounders he should have handled, two were semi-tough in that the direction of the ball changed within five feet of him, and one took a crazy hop that very few players on planet Earth could have made a play on.
Castillo also had six dropped ball errors. Three of the six were routine plays he should have made.
Two of dropped ball errors were initially charged to other players and later in the year given to Castillo – one was charged to Paulino for bouncing a throw in the dirt to Castillo while covering second on an attempted base steal, and the other was a throw by Sanchez in the dirt while Castillo covered 1B.
The last dropped ball error was charged to Castillo but should have been charged to Jack Wilson as a throwing error, as the throw to Castillo was at his shoestrings while he was covering 2B for a force out.
Then Castillo was charged with three throwing errors on plays where other defenders failed to catch the ball thrown to them. If Castillo should be charged with all six dropped ball errors above from poor throws to him, then I don’t know how he could be charged with throwing catchable balls to other players who failed to at least block the ball.
The first throwing error was a one hopper to Craig Wilson covering first on a nice stop by Castillo who had to throw off balance. But the ball bounced and took a long hop – five foot or more – and came to Wilson knee high or better, but it went off the heel of his glove and Castillo was given the error.
The second throwing error was on a relay throw to the plate and Paulino didn’t even attempt to block the ball that hit right near his feet. While the throw might not have been catchable before the bounce, it was easily a blockable ball and the error should have been on Paulino, not Castillo.
The last throwing error there is no video of and I don’t know what happened except hearing the announcers state that the ball bounced past Sanchez, so I have to assume this was Castillo’s error.
The very last error Castillo made for the year was on a pop up to short right field where Castillo was backing up trying to catch the ball, Burnitz was in a position to catch it but didn’t call Castillo off and Castillo couldn’t see him, and the ball came down hitting Castillo’s mitt and bounced out. It’s a legitimate error called by the official scorer but it’s a tough error for him to have to eat.
A total of five runs directly scored from Castillo’s 18 errors. One from Castillo’s relay throw to Sanchez covering 3B, one run from the failed catch by Craig Wilson, one run when Castillo covered 1B and Sanchez threw the ball in the dirt, and two runs, one from each on the ground ball plays where the direction of the ball changed in the last five feet.
There’s no question that Jose Castillo made a lot of seemingly silly errors. The fact 9 of his 18 errors were made on days after the team had a day off suggests that Castillo might not be able to get his concentration level up to speed after an off day. Further suggesting a concentration issue is that Castillo commited two errors in one game three times, for 33% of his total errors.
At the same time, we know Castillo started the year off out of shape after Dave Littlefield asked him not to work out over the winter since he had a torn MCL he was healing. And we also know Littlefield rejected Castillo’s plea to play in the World Baseball Classic to help him get in shape.
To that end, 66% of Castillo’s errors were made in the first half of the season and just one of the six errors in the second half were of the routine variety. So there’s no question Castillo tightened his game in the second half.
I have included video below showing every error Castillo was charged with so you can make your own decisions. Here is the official scorers rules on errors from the MLB rule book [link].
Every second baseman gets judged by the same rules, so in that regard Castillo received equal treatment. Yet, I don’t care who you are, and I don’t care how conservatively you view the errors he was charged with watching the video, you’ll be hard pressed to find 18 legitimate errors. 14 maybe.. but 12 or less is probably correct.
After you decide how many errors he deserved, remember that the other five players in MLB last year who had 700 or more total chances averaged 15.5 errors each.
As you listen to the video, listen closely to Gregg Brown and Lanny Frattare as they talk about Castillo and compare their attitude to the tone Castillo receives from the local beat reporters. Then listen to the tone of ex-players John Wehner and Bob Walk in comparison.
Then also remember that at least two (possibly as many as four) errors were originally charged to other players by official scorers and then changed later in the year and given to Castillo, along with the knowledge that the front office of every team has the right to appeal to MLB any official scorer decision.
It’s enough to make you start wondering if someone has it out for Castillo, and why. Here’s Castillo’s error reel: