Should Starlin Castro move off shortstop?

After Starlin Castro‘s 3-error inning the other day a lot of talk began again about moving the 21-year old to 2nd base. It’s even been suggested that Darwin Barney (also a natural shortstop) be moved from 2nd to short. Mike Quade hasn’t even begun to think about that, which is great news. It’s not going to happen anytime soon and it shouldn’t.

However, Starlin Castro is a pretty bad fielding SS right now. There’s no way around that. Yeah, he’s exciting to watch. He’ll make some terrific plays. Let’s be honest, if Castro wasn’t hitting well at such a young age would we really care? Imagine if Castro was overwhelmed at the plate. If that was happening his defensive play would stand out more and we might even be suggesting a move to 2nd could help him.

While I think it’s too early to move Castro to a different position, he’s probably going to be moved there before long anyway. Scouts have said for awhile that his future was likely at 2nd or 3rd base. Jim Callis mentioned that he thought the Cubs would take a shortstop in the 1st round and move Castro to SS when he was ready. So that’s about 3-4 years or so. Or earlier.

While talk about moving positions at this point in his career seems quite unnecessary to me, it’s more than likely going to happen within a few years. I wouldn’t do it right now, but it’s not the end of the world if the Cubs did. If the Cubs did feel that he was focusing too much on defense and it was taking away from his offense then it might be a smart idea to go ahead and do it. On the other hand, if the Cubs think he’s going to improve then you obviously keep him there.

The defensive adjustment when calculating WAR for SS is +.75 and it’s +.25 for 2nd base. Say you have a SS worth -3 runs over a full season at SS. The defense moving to an easier position would be expected to be +2. The same .5 win loss in defensive adjustment per full season is gained back by the improved defense at the easier position.

Talk of moving to another position seems premature to me, but Castro is not going to lose any value by moving to 2nd base. He will remain every bit as valuable as he is at SS. He’d be a bit less fun to watch. As far as I’m concerned, it comes down to whether or not the Cubs think he can be an even better offensive player if he focused less on his defense.


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