Starlin Castro has raised a lot of questions with his play this year. Most of them haven't been good.
At the beginning of the year, Castro wasn't the same Starlin that we as Cubs fans have grown to know and love over the last 3 seasons. The .300 hitter who could speed through the base paths, had power potential, and was the face of the Cubs franchise barely in his twenties. Instead, he was relatively slow off the blocks compared to his other seasons. In April of 2013, Castro had a batting average of .277, the lowest batting average in the first month of a season for his career.
For some, .277 would be a good number, but it was under-achieving for the 2-time All-Star. But from there it only got worse. Batting .252 in May, and a terribly bad .167 in June, with only 11 hits before the 24th of the month, and a stretch when he went 17 for 111, a .153 average.
It got so bad, Dale Sveum put Castro on the bench for a game on June 25th, the first game Starlin Castro didn't start since August 22, 2011.
If we know one certainty about Starlin Castro as Cubs fans and watching him for the last 4 years, besides that he is extremely fun to watch when on top of his game, is that Starlin Castro is a competitor. He wants, strives for, and lives to be the best to play the game of baseball. When he didn't start his first game in almost two years it lit a fire underneath him, and since then he has been on a tear.
In 17 games since then, Castro has hit 22 for 72, .305, 3 HR, 5 RBI, bumped his season average and on base percentage up 13 points, his slugging percentage up 27 points, and his OPS up (an easily predictable with good math skills) 40 points.
Also, in those last 17 games, the Cubs have won 11 of them, 2nd best mark in the NL since that date.
In Castro's bad 17 for 111 stretch, the Cubs went 11-13.
This could lead to an eventual conclusion that Starlin Castro is a barometer for the Cubs. When Starlin plays well the Cubs are successful, when Starlin doesn't play well neither do the Cubs.
It has only been 17 games, and I don't want to jump the gun or anything here, but Starlin Castro might be back to his old self. Which is exactly what the Cubs need right now, with Anthony Rizzo only hitting .182 so far in July, the Cubs need other players to get hot. Like Alfonso Soriano, who has hit 9 home runs in the last 15 games, Edwin Jackson who has won his last 3 starts (and 5 of his last 7), and Matt Garza who has won 5 straight.
Let's face it, Starlin Castro and the rest of the Cubs are hot right now.
The Cubs could possibly ride this wave of momentum though the All-Star break and into the second half, but with the Wild Card 9 games ahead, could a rejuvenated Starlin Castro lead this Cubs squad to their first playoff appearance since 2008? As of right now, it's a stretch, but it's not out of the question just yet.