Phillies’ All-Star outfielder picked as a bust for the 2024 season by Pitcher List

Nick Castellanos was tremendous during his second season with the Phillies, but at least one sports media outlet predicts a regression and labels him a bust for fantasy baseball in 2024.

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

There was a lot of excitement in Philadelphia, after the Phillies signed Nick Castellanos to a five-year, $100 million deal ahead of the 2022 season. He was coming off a career year which included single-season bests with 34 home runs, a .309/.362/.576 slash line, .939 OPS and 138 OPS+.

As much as a regression would have been understandable given the heights Castellanos scaled during his second and final year in Cincinnati, it still turned out to be a bigger drop than anticipated. Among other things, he hit just 13 homers during his debut season in Philadelphia, as well as his worst slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ since his rookie year, when he had just 18 at-bats.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, the 2021 Silver Slugger rebounded in a big way last season. He enjoyed a stellar campaign in which he earned his second All-Star selection, as he set a new personal best of 106 RBI, which included the second-most home runs of his career, at 29.

Not as good in 2024, at least for fantasy baseball

However, as ended up being the case two seasons ago, Castellanos is now being predicted to have another regression in 2024. This prediction comes courtesy of Pitcher List's Mark Steubinger.

Steubinger's biggest reason for concern is the 31-year-old's increasing strikeout rate the past two seasons. From 20.7 percent in 2021, it rose to 23.3 percent in 2022 and then 27.6 percent last year, which was the second-worst strikeout rate of his MLB career.

Reference is made to how Castellanos isn't getting any younger, although it's worth considering how his experience and improved confidence could counteract this assertion. It should also be noted that he had a career-high strikeout rate of 28.5 percent in 2020, which he then brought down dramatically a year later to the aforementioned 20.7 percent.

Another reason a regression is predicted this coming season comes down to the two-time All-Star overperforming his quality of contact last year. Steubinger writes that each of his xBA (.258),  xSLG (.443), and xWOBA (.320) were exceeded by a good margin and believes these three stats won't come out as highly in 2024.

More negative projections for Castellanos

Pitcher List isn't the first baseball media outlet to predict Castellanos taking a step back during the 2024 season. As per our very own Matt Dargan, FanGraph's Steamer and ZiPS projections see him being less productive, even allowing for likely fewer strikeouts.

However, even if the 2010 first-round draft pick does regress this year, it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a disaster. For a start, any step back doesn't have to be significant, for him to still be a productive member of the lineup.

Further, his Steamer projections of 24 home runs and 90 RBI, while indeed a drop from last year, aren't that bad, especially in a weak fantasy outfield landscape. In fact, if he had those numbers last season instead of 29 and 106, respectively, he would still be third-best in both categories among all Phillies players.

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Overall, we appreciate that Pitcher List is specifically coming from a fantasy perspective, with Steubinger suggesting he wouldn't necessarily be interested in drafting Castellanos, even if he falls a few rounds. However, back in the real world, the chances are he will be just fine this season.