When Is It Okay To Worry About Triston Casas: An Attempt at the Reverse Jinx

nvalvo

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Poking around in Casas' statistical pages wishing there was a game on tonight...

2022: 95 PA. .197/.358/.408, on a .208 BABIP. 24% K, 20% BB.
2023: 119 PA. .167/.311/.354, on a .180 BABIP. 27% K, 17% BB.

So he still taking his walks and still striking out a lot, and his BABIPs are still crazy low, even for a really slow dude.

But I was struck by how much improved his contact profile has been. Leaguewide barrel % is 6.8: his is a touch over 12.

2022: 86.6 Average EV, 110.5 Max EV. 7.5% Barrels.
2023: 91.3 Average EV, 111 Max EV. 12.1% Barrels.

He's also hitting trading ground balls for balls in the air, which feels promising, even if we're definitely seeing too many popups so far.

2022: 57% GB, 28% FB, 13% LD, 2% PU
2023: 38% GB, 33% FB, 20% LD, 9% PU

So, in short, he's hitting the ball much harder, more frequently in the air, and striking out a tick more. He's had his share of 350+ foot outs, too.
 

Chainsaw318

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I’ve followed most games on my phone, but not watched a lot, but surprised the defensive stats so far have Casas below average, as I thought he was at least average in the field.

Fangraphs lists as 2/3 runs below average and as a -4.6 defensive runs component of his WAR.

I would expect that’s just sample-size noise and the error bars for fielding stats, unless something is showing up in the field that I am not hearing about?

First base defense has been an issue for the Red Sox the past few seasons, so if Casas is close to average there, it’s a bonus.

Also, on offense, the sample this season is still so small. 7 games and 27 PAs in May make up almost 25% of his season totals and you could get excited - 2 HRs, .286 avg, 5 walks to 5 strikeouts.
 

Rovin Romine

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I’ve followed most games on my phone, but not watched a lot, but surprised the defensive stats so far have Casas below average, as I thought he was at least average in the field.

Fangraphs lists as 2/3 runs below average and as a -4.6 defensive runs component of his WAR.

I would expect that’s just sample-size noise and the error bars for fielding stats, unless something is showing up in the field that I am not hearing about?

First base defense has been an issue for the Red Sox the past few seasons, so if Casas is close to average there, it’s a bonus.

Also, on offense, the sample this season is still so small. 7 games and 27 PAs in May make up almost 25% of his season totals and you could get excited - 2 HRs, .286 avg, 5 walks to 5 strikeouts.
Casas is a big guy - he's an inviting target and his picks are at least average at first. He (to my eye) has certainly trained as a first-baseman, and positions himself accordingly. You don't see a lot of awkwardness. I recall him jumping well on several plays (including last year and in spring training.)

What he does not seem to have is a lot of range - he's not very fast and does not dive often.

Based on the eye-test I'd suspect most of what you're seeing is noise. There have been a handful of screamers that have zipped through his zone.
 

SouthernBoSox

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I’ve followed most games on my phone, but not watched a lot, but surprised the defensive stats so far have Casas below average, as I thought he was at least average in the field.

Fangraphs lists as 2/3 runs below average and as a -4.6 defensive runs component of his WAR.

I would expect that’s just sample-size noise and the error bars for fielding stats, unless something is showing up in the field that I am not hearing about?

First base defense has been an issue for the Red Sox the past few seasons, so if Casas is close to average there, it’s a bonus.

Also, on offense, the sample this season is still so small. 7 games and 27 PAs in May make up almost 25% of his season totals and you could get excited - 2 HRs, .286 avg, 5 walks to 5 strikeouts.
I often would like to see these defensive metrics broken out monthly.

If I recall, he made some pretty horrible plays in April and seems to have been much better as of late.

A 12% barrel rate with a .180 BABIP is lunacy. There is a breakout coming here. Everyone that watches the games knows. He’s right there.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I often would like to see these defensive metrics broken out monthly.

If I recall, he made some pretty horrible plays in April and seems to have been much better as of late.

A 12% barrel rate with a .180 BABIP is lunacy. There is a breakout coming here. Everyone that watches the games knows. He’s right there.
I’ve only watched a handful of games but he’s getting some sort of rookie treatment by the umps.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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I was curious so I just took a peek behind door #2, Eric Hosmer. Hosmer is hitting . 247, but his .636 OPS and 74 OPS+ are both below Casas. He also only has 15 games at 1B, so it doesn't look like we missed a big opportunity of having Hosmer keep the seat warm while Triston figured things out at Worcester
 

Remagellan

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I’ve only watched a handful of games but he’s getting some sort of rookie treatment by the umps.
That's kind of been my take as well. It seems he's been struck out multiple times this season on borderline pitches in which the ump gave the pitcher a very generous call on what comprised the outside edge or bottom of the strike zone.
 

Max Power

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Casas is a big guy - he's an inviting target and his picks are at least average at first. He (to my eye) has certainly trained as a first-baseman, and positions himself accordingly. You don't see a lot of awkwardness. I recall him jumping well on several plays (including last year and in spring training.)

What he does not seem to have is a lot of range - he's not very fast and does not dive often.

Based on the eye-test I'd suspect most of what you're seeing is noise. There have been a handful of screamers that have zipped through his zone.
He looked great defensively when he was up at the end of last year, but that may have just been in comparison to Dalbec and Franchy. To my eyes he hasn't been nearly as good this year. He hasn't saved his infielders any errors with his picks, has made some bad decisions about going for a ball versus covering first, and doesn't have much range. I don't think he's ever going to be a rangy first basemen, but he can improve his catching and be decent.
 

8slim

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I was curious so I just took a peek behind door #2, Eric Hosmer. Hosmer is hitting . 247, but his .636 OPS and 74 OPS+ are both below Casas. He also only has 15 games at 1B, so it doesn't look like we missed a big opportunity of having Hosmer keep the seat warm while Triston figured things out at Worcester
Credit to Bloom for jettisoning Hosmer and going all in on Casas. If we really believe that Casas can be the long term answer at 1B then he needs at least a full MLB season to make or break. AAA time would be useless, IMHO. We're fortunate that we seem to have a lineup that affords us stashing him deep in the order to let him work through things. But even if we were struggling offensively, he needs the major league reps.
 

rodderick

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His contact profile is fine, he's hitting the ball hard and not chasing. I think the last few weeks have been very encouraging and he feels like a guy on the brink of going on a scorcher that makes the numbers closer to the batted balls. His expected wOBA on contact is .387. Not worried.
 

sezwho

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That's kind of been my take as well. It seems he's been struck out multiple times this season on borderline pitches in which the ump gave the pitcher a very generous call on what comprised the outside edge or bottom of the strike zone.
I haven't done work to say whether that's analytically true (if he has more K's than avg on called strikes outside the zone) but when your game leans heavily towards leaving the bat on your shoulder that's unquestionably going to happen more.

When I see someone that height I reflexively worry about covering the lower part of the plate, especially in this day of 98+ high heat from every pen, but he doesn't really seem to have a hole in his swing aside from not liking balls on the corners (who does?).

The combo of his eye plus the barrel rates means we just keep waiting for the sleeper to awaken.
 

sezwho

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His contact profile is fine, he's hitting the ball hard and not chasing. I think the last few weeks have been very encouraging and he feels like a guy on the brink of going on a scorcher that makes the numbers closer to the batted balls. His expected wOBA on contact is .387. Not worried.
Edit...saw this post late but love the bolded. I've pinned a lot of my future hopes (though list of reasons of hope getting longer not shorter as season progresses) to Casas and Bello and need to be patient on both.
 

Tuff Ghost

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I still feel burnt by Franchy Cordero and his career expected wOBA on contact (xwOBACON) of .448 and Dalbec's xwOBACON of .469. MLB average xwOBACON is about .368, so I will take Casas's .387, though, as hopefully a good sign of things to come.

Looking at Triston Casas's Baseball Savant page for 2023 could be used as an assessment to determine if a Sox fan is an optimist or pessimist. It's fascinating in the highs/lows it darts between. There is something for each of us to hold onto if we choose.

The great (optimism!):
Truly elite BB rate: 17.6% (96th percentile)
Average exit velocity: 91.3 mph (82nd percentile)
Barrel%: 12.1% (77th percentile)

The bad (pessimism!):
Truly dreadful xBA: .194 (3rd percentile)
K%: 26.9% (23rd percentile)
Whiff %: 29.4% (27th percentile)
xSLG: .376 (44th percentile)
(Then obviously sprint speed (9th percentile) and defense (OAA, 8 percentile) are horrifying, but I am mostly interested in his batting numbers at the moment.)

In the end, the above peaks and valleys come together to make for basically an above average batting profile so far in 2023:
xwOBA: .338 (63rd percentile)

That's better than some of the other guys I have hoped would become useful hitters in the past few years (Franchy career xwOBA: .310; Bobby Dalbec career xwOBA: .324), but I know it's still early.

For that reason, however, I do come out on the side of an optimist. I just find it wild to have a 77th percentile barrel % and a 3rd percentile xBA. He certainly strikes out plenty, but it is not like he strikes out at an absurd rate like a Franch Cordero (35% career K%) or Dalbec (35.1% career K%) and strikeouts are the only cause of the abysmal xBA. When he is not getting a barrel (he has 8 barrels on his 66 batted balls in 119 PAs), the results must be pretty poor to end up with an xBA of .194. He seems to get under the ball a lot (his Under% = 34.8% vs MLB average of 24.6%). That means he hits a lot of popups (9.1% vs MLB 7.1%) and fly balls (33.3% vs. MLB 23.2%) and not enough line drives (19.7% vs MLB 24.9%).

His below average xSLG is largely a result of his dreadful xBA, and probably not a sign to question his power because his xISO is strong (73rd percentile). The easiest conclusion would be that he has the potential to be a low BA, high power, and high BB % guy. Perhaps the optimists can dream of Casas becoming a bit Adam Dunn-esque, while the pessimists will fairly caution against that likelihood (Dunn had some amazing years, a career wOBA of .367 with a career best wOBA of .402 back in 2004!).
Dunn career BB% = 15.8%, Casas 2023 = 17.6%
Dunn career K% = 28.6%, Casas 2023 = 26.9%
Dunn career BA = .237, Casas 2023 = .167 (a .237 BA never sounded so good!)
Dunn career ISO = .253, Casas 2023 = .188
 

TFisNEXT

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Awesome breakdown by many in here. I think I saw a reference to his age back on the first page of this thread, but Casas is several years younger than Dalbec and Franchy were when we were hoping for their respective breakouts if we're comparing those players. Casas just turned 23 in January while Dalbec was 26 when he had that 2nd half breakout in 2021 and Franchy was 26 when he got here in 2021. Those extra years are significant when projecting developmental hitting curves.

So the fact that Casas already shows very good plate discipline at such a young age is a really good sign and hopefully the contact numbers improve a bit and his batted ball profile does as well as he matures more. 23 is still very young for a major league power hitter.
 

Daniel_Son

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.286/.407/.571 slash line in May so far. Good for a .979 OPS. Only 7 games so far this month, but it's still mighty encouraging.
 

LogansDad

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.286/.407/.571 slash line in May so far. Good for a .979 OPS. Only 7 games so far this month, but it's still mighty encouraging.
And at least 2 of his outs have been warning track fly balls to dead center that likely would get out in another week or so, weather depending.
 

jwbasham84

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In the month of May Casas is hitting .250 (13/52) with 1 double, 3 homers, 7 RBIs, and 29% K rate. He also has 9 walks and an OBP of .355. He's certainly trending in the right direction. A decent amount of hard hit balls that have been unfortunately caught. Has been hard to watch him fail in some big situations, but that's a part of the learning experience for him. Let's hope he keeps trending in the same direction...
 

BaseballJones

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In the month of May Casas is hitting .250 (13/52) with 1 double, 3 homers, 7 RBIs, and 29% K rate. He also has 9 walks and an OBP of .355. He's certainly trending in the right direction. A decent amount of hard hit balls that have been unfortunately caught. Has been hard to watch him fail in some big situations, but that's a part of the learning experience for him. Let's hope he keeps trending in the same direction...
Just gotta keep running him out there. He's the 1b of the present AND the future. Let him learn on the job and take some lumps. He's got gobs of talent. He'll be an asset for years, but he just needs MLB at-bats.
 

TFisNEXT

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Casas is already a decent hitter now who is just getting unlucky. His statcast numbers are quite encouraging. Hopefully we continue to see progression from "Decent hitter" to "good" or "great" between now and during next season. His expected batting average is still very low (.210) but his expected OBP/SLG numbers with neutral luck would look like .338/.428

65190
 

Max Power

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Cora seems to be playing this right so far. Casas is still starting most games, but Turner is playing at first a lot more in May than he did in April. That's squeezing out all the time in the field you'd want from your 38 year old DH while letting Casas avoid some more difficult matchups. There's nobody else on the 40 man roster who could play first full time, so this is basically what's it's going to be for the rest of the season.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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Really, fat shaming!?!

Signed,

Fat guys around the world
Hunh, I thought "he can't hit was weight" was a standard insult about weak hitters that I was flipping around. Especially since he has been in May.

How about this way then - if Casas had Devers' current batting average we would all be happy.
 

SouthernBoSox

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“Can’t hit their weight” isn’t a fat joke it’s a you suck at hitting joke. In fact, it gets less accurate the MORE fat you are….

Let’s move along.

The underlying stuff on Casas remains very favorable. He’s incredibly unlucky.

Actually, I am far more concerned with his defense, which seems to have near zero range, than his bay to this point.
 

cantor44

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I suppose the question is: what might we be worrying about? It seems almost certain that Casas is not as bad as his current conventional stats. With some more reps and better luck, they will improve. My worry is is that maybe his ceiling isn't as high as we had hoped. Or, that maybe he was over-hyped. His minor league numbers were good, but not scorching. It's possible he's simply an okay big leaguer, when the hope was for something much more.
 

LogansDad

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Julio Rodriguez is batting .222 with a sub-.700 OPS right now. Baseball is really hard. I think Casas will figure it out.

I will say that the last game in San Diego was the first time I have had mild concerns, as he looked overmatched in multiple at bats. Even with the struggles I have felt like he has put up good, professional at bats for the most part, so watching him have no clue for half the game on Sunday was not much fun.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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I suppose the question is: what might we be worrying about? It seems almost certain that Casas is not as bad as his current conventional stats. With some more reps and better luck, they will improve. My worry is is that maybe his ceiling isn't as high as we had hoped. Or, that maybe he was over-hyped. His minor league numbers were good, but not scorching. It's possible he's simply an okay big leaguer, when the hope was for something much more.
Agree with this. I worry a bit that he's the next Dalbec/Cordero whose fundamental inability to hit for average negates the value of their considerable power. He's obviously a somewhat different player in that he has so much more control over the strike zone, so he's always going to be generating some value by reaching base at a rate that Dalbec/Cordero can't match, meaning that the risk of him being a total bust like those two is a lot lower, but is he going to become a middle-of-the-order force or a JAG?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I get that he's not hitting the ball all that great, but he's getting on base at a better clip than Devers right now (.312 OBP vs .289). It's not like he's a black hole in the lineup. He's 250 PA into his career. He's got time to figure it out.
 

E5 Yaz

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I get that he's not hitting the ball all that great, but he's getting on base at a better clip than Devers right now (.312 OBP vs .289).
The difference, as you know, is that Devers has one established track record. Globe had a bit on Casas this morning, saying that his .312 is below the league average, so while the walks are good, the lack of production shows up in that below-average OBP.
Another point in the article is that, for a guy that has a good eye, Casas doesn't take advantage of it. He's hitting just .071 (not a typo) when ahead in the count. League average is .286.
We can make numbers do anything, of courser, but our universal hope that Casas explodes at some point tests the patience.
 

Sin Duda

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Hunh, I thought "he can't hit was weight" was a standard insult about weak hitters that I was flipping around. Especially since he has been in May.

How about this way then - if Casas had Devers' current batting average we would all be happy.
Don't worry, it was mock outrage by me. I thought the signature gave it away. "can't hit his weight" is still okay to say in these environs.
 

derekson

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Honestly Casas's eye and ability to square up the bat with the ball makes me think he'll hit but it's his defense that scares me. He's 23 and already lacks range at first.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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Trying to get a sense of what Casas could be, I looked up similar hitters and right now old friend Kyle Schwarber pops up. Let's take a look:

ETA, those tables blew onto screen caps

KS: 65233


TC:
65234

This shows Casas' career to date compared to Schwarber's six years under the Cubs control. As a reminder, Schwarber missed all but two games due to injury his second season, so some of those counting stats may seem a bit low. Casas has better walk and k/bb rates, but are we looking at Schwarber 2.0 here?

65231
 
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YTF

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Trying to get a sense of what Casas could be, I looked up similar hitters and right now old friend Kyle Schwarber pops up. Let's take a look:

ETA, those tables blew onto screen caps

KS: View attachment 65233


TC:
View attachment 65234

This shows Casas' career to date compared to Schwarber's six years under the Cubs control. As a reminder, Schwarber missed all but two games due to injury his second season, so some of those counting stats may seem a bit low. Casas has better walk and k/bb rates, but are we looking at Schwarber 2.0 here?

View attachment 65231
I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to statistical analysis I'm the least qualified to question methods used, but is it possible to find any usefulness in the comparison made here? I mean 70 games and 249 PAs vs 551 and 2108?
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to statistical analysis I'm the least qualified to question methods used, but is it possible to find any usefulness in the comparison made here? I mean 70 games and 249 PAs vs 551 and 2108?
With you on the stat analysis understanding. He just looks like he's a guy who is struggling to find consistency and his lack of success (mostly BABiP fueled) is creating some indecisiveness... I don't think the way Cora is playing him helps either.
At some point I'm 100% confident he'll find a groove and go on a tear. He'll likely always have a low-ish batting average (.250?) but I can really see a .380 OBP with .540 SLG without squinting too much at all.
Also think his defense will just improve.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to statistical analysis I'm the least qualified to question methods used, but is it possible to find any usefulness in the comparison made here? I mean 70 games and 249 PAs vs 551 and 2108?
Probably not. I was looking more at their numbers this year, and even Casas' career numbers compared to Kyle for this year there are similarities. A few posts up, we were comparing Casas to Adam Dunn, I wanted to see how he stacked up against a current player we have some familiarity with. Here is the comparison of the two for their first two seasons (ages 22/23). Because of Schwarber's injury, the games and PAs are pretty close right now. Again, does this tell us anything? I dunno - I still don't know what I think Casas' ceiling is.

If Casas were to have 11 more singles in his career right now, his BA would match Schwarber's from 15/16. Casas would then have an OPS line of 373/429/802. Which again gets us pretty close to Schwarber's first 278 PAs. If those 11 hits followed the same XB pattern as Casas' actual 38 hits, it goes up to 372/463/836 - which is really damn close to Schwarb's 353/479/831. So are we hoping that Triston pulls it together to become Schwarber? Are we expecting more?

65237
 

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I'd take the under on Casas's career totals versus Schwarber. He may figure it out eventually, but decent prospects who flame out are way more common than league home run leaders.
 

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Probably not. I was looking more at their numbers this year, and even Casas' career numbers compared to Kyle for this year there are similarities.
Those rate stats are interesting. Basically, if Casas were able to trade some walks for hits, he'd look much closer to Schwarber.

I think that jives with the eye-test critique of his season so far. He needs to find a way to become a bit more intelligently/opportunistically aggressive in some counts, gathering more hits at the cost of eventual walks.

That same unscientific eye-test makes me think it's mental - mental in the approach sense, not the block/impediment sense. I think that's something that needs to be shaken up in coaching. New message, new voice for the old (correct) message - whatever. But more of exactly the same is not the path here.
 

BaseballJones

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Casas, in admittedly arbitrary groupings of games...

First 26 games: 96 PA, 14 R, 10 H, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .128/.281/.282/.563, .149 BABIP, 32.0 PA/HR
Last 17 games: 58 PA, 5 R, 13 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .265/.362/.469/.832, .294 BABIP, 19.3 PA/HR

So definitely some improvement. And honestly, if he did, for the rest of the season, what he's done the last 17 games, that's more than adequate.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Casas, in admittedly arbitrary groupings of games...

First 26 games: 96 PA, 14 R, 10 H, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .128/.281/.282/.563, .149 BABIP, 32.0 PA/HR
Last 17 games: 58 PA, 5 R, 13 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .265/.362/.469/.832, .294 BABIP, 19.3 PA/HR

So definitely some improvement. And honestly, if he did, for the rest of the season, what he's done the last 17 games, that's more than adequate.
Oh hell yeah…. But need some defensive improvement for that number to be a regular 1B type. I do think Bloom is counting on him being a middle of the order threat for years to come though. None of the big HR types in mL’s have been impressive
 

Sin Duda

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Casas, in admittedly arbitrary groupings of games...

First 26 games: 96 PA, 14 R, 10 H, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .128/.281/.282/.563, .149 BABIP, 32.0 PA/HR
Last 17 games: 58 PA, 5 R, 13 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .265/.362/.469/.832, .294 BABIP, 19.3 PA/HR

So definitely some improvement. And honestly, if he did, for the rest of the season, what he's done the last 17 games, that's more than adequate.
I'm very glad to see the BABip recovering, .149 is insanely low but screams SSS.
 

LoLsapien

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Oh hell yeah…. But need some defensive improvement for that number to be a regular 1B type. I do think Bloom is counting on him being a middle of the order threat for years to come though. None of the big HR types in mL’s have been impressive
If I'm reading this right on the Fangraphs leaderboard, 0.832 OPS would be the 5th highest among MLB 1B last year, immediately above Jose Abreu and below Nate Lowe. If he's not a complete butcher in the field I think we can be pretty happy with that!
 

LoLsapien

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After his 3 hit explosion last night, Casas has an even 0.700 OPS on the season, good for a WRC+ of 92. His OPS is 23rd among 1B according to the fangraphs leader board. He has an atrociously bad -6.1 defensive runs saved, in contrast to last year where his defense was essentially neutral or positive across most metrics aside from his range. I suspect his defense will rebound while he loosens up seeing his hits fall as the BABIP gods once again smile upon him. But we'll see. I'm bullish.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Glad to see there’s still level headed posters in the game threads still that pointed out that even despite his bad night, he still has a +.800 OPS for May.
It doesn’t make any sense to move him to AAA at all. He isn’t the reason they lost last night.
 

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Glad to see there’s still level headed posters in the game threads still that pointed out that even despite his bad night, he still has a +.800 OPS for May.
It doesn’t make any sense to move him to AAA at all. He isn’t the reason they lost last night.
He's certainly one of the reasons they lost last night. He went 0-5 in a 1-run game, had a -0.249 WPA, and looked completely overmatched in the 9th. He has a decent OPS in May, but that was a good 2 weeks to start the month. He has a 0.515 OPS since then.

If the team in in contention when Story is ready to come back and Casas still isn't hitting, I'd rather see him sent down with Story at short, Duvall taking over at first, and Hernandez back in CF.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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Jul 14, 2005
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Sadly, one of the reasons not to send him back to AAA is there isn't anyone to slot in at 1B who would likely improve the team. Turner has done a fine job in limited action there, but I don't think anyone wants to run him out there every day. We've all had enough of Bobby D, and the two 1Bs in Worcester, Palka and Goodrum, are both 31-year-old AAAA types. Duvall only has 43 games at first and hasn't played there since 2018. I'm not opposed to trying him there, but I think a week in Worcester playing first would be in order.

In a just world, Boston would have another competent corner infielder on the 40 man and Casas could have started the season in Worcester for fine tuning and right about now we would be wondering if he would get called up before the All-Star break.