One of the highlights of the young season for the Philadelphia Phillies thus far has been the resurgence of outfielder Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos signed a 5-year, $100 million deal before the 2022 season after successful stints in Detroit, Chicago, and Cincinnati. However, in 2022 the Phillies did not seem to see that same Castellanos.
His power was way down from previous seasons and he wasn't driving in nearly as many runs. In his career best season in 2021, Castellanos hit 34 home runs with 101 RBIs. He was an all star, silver slugger, and finished 12th in NL MVP voting.
2022 was very different for Castellanos. In just two less games, he had 21 less home runs and 38 less RBIs.
Many factors went into this struggle for Castellanos. First, because of the MLB lockout, he was rushed to sign with a team and report immediately. Also, Castellanos needed an adjustment period to get used to Philadelphia and everything that goes with it after playing in Cincinnati the last two season. He also seemed to be banged up at times and playing through injury. Down the stretch, Castellanos was sidelined a few weeks because of an oblique strain. The injury is not easy to come back from and bothered him throughout the postseason run.
The last thing that effected Castellanos was having to be an everyday outfielder. He signed with the Phillies knowing they had Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber for corner outfield spots. When harper hurt his elbow early in the season, Castellanos would be forced to be an everyday right fielder.
Despite the struggles in the regular season, in the playoffs Castellanos had multiple clutch moments on both sides of the ball. However, he still did not have the power he had in the past.
Nick Castellanos has had a resurgent year with the Phillies in 2023
2023 has been a resurgence for Castellanos. With Bryce Harper out for the first month of the season, the Phillies needed Castellanos to step up in a big way. And through nearly 30 games, he has done just that.
Castellanos is second on the team in WAR with 1.0. He has not only got his power back, but he's also hitting for great average and has improved defense.
After not finding his footing in right field until the playoffs last season, he has looked more comfortable there so far this season and has made some spectacular plays. His best play undoubtedly was a robbing of an Alex Bregman home run in game one of the series against the Astros.
Offensively, he has been outstanding. Castellanos has three home runs and six RBIs so far. He has been a mainstay of the four hole for Philadelphia the majority of the season. Castellanos has been a great transition from the top three of Stott, Turner, and Schwarber to the meat of the order with Bohm and Marsh.
Castellanos also is hitting for great average, currently hitting .320. While it is very early in the season, it is much better than his .263 average last season.
What seems to be the reason behind this resurgence for Castellanos? The answers may be more simple than it seems. He has more comfort and confidence this season than the last. Castellanos even admitted that he had trouble adjusting to Philadelphia last season and that the whole season felt like a whirlwind rush because of the lockout.
He also is fully healthy. In 2022, the oblique injury really limited his power. We don't know how long he had the injury but it is possible that it was lingering throughout the year and got to its peak when he when to the injured list in September.
Castellanos is a large part of the reason why the Phillies have been able to stay strong in April and be hovering around .500 with the absece of key contributors like Bryce Harper, Ranger Suarez, and Rhys Hoskins.
He has even written the number 17 on his hat to pay respect to Rhys Hoskins who is missing the entire season with a torn ACL.
When Bryce Harper comes back in May, the Phillies will likely have a top lineup in baseball if Castellanos and the rest of the team continue to do what they are doing and Harper plays like the Bryce Harper we saw in October.