Phillies slugger finds himself on a discouraging list for lack of early-season power

Nick Castellanos has been off to a slow start offensively and lacking power at the plate through the season's first three weeks.
Colorado Rockies v Philadelphia Phillies
Colorado Rockies v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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Nick Castellanos, mired by a poor offensive start through the first three weeks of the 2024 season, has demonstrated a lack of power at the plate. The Philadelphia Phillies right fielder is one of a handful of notable players in the majors without a home run, according to Cole Jacobson of MLB.com.

After Friday's 0-for-3 performance, Castellanos has a line of .153/.218/.153 and a .371 OPS in 72 at-bats this year. The 32-year-old enters Saturday's game in a 0-for-16 slump. He doesn't have an extra-base hit yet this season. The outfielder's 20 strikeouts are the fourth most on the club. His five RBI rank eighth on the team — behind all of the starters except for Johan Rojas.

Since last year's National League Championship Series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, Castellanos has been in a massive offensive slump. His unreliability as a hitter proves he should be at the bottom of the lineup, particularly when the majority of the starters are playing. It's evident from his lack of production in 2024 that he is regressing this season.

Considering how streaky he has been with the Phillies, Castellanos could get off to a hitting streak at any time. However, he lacks consistency and will ultimately return to a phase of struggling at the plate again. His performances during last year's Division Series versus the Braves and against the Diamondbacks in the NLCS are evidence of how erratic he can be offensively.

Castellanos' early-season struggles include poor plate discipline, again

Jacobson writes that Castellanos needs to fix his launch angle. According to Baseball Savant he has been under the ball on 42.3 percent of batted balls this season. The outfielder's plate discipline is another concern this year, with a career-high 40.0 percent chase rate through the early part of the year. He had a 41.0 percent chase rate in 2023.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson commented on April 12 on whether he has considered giving Castellanos a day off. The skipper said: "I think his mental makeup is good and he's wanted to grind through this thing. He's working very hard to get through it, so we'll go day by day and see where he's at."

In 2022, Castellanos hit his first home run of the season during the second game versus the Oakland Athletics. The following year, his first homer didn't occur until the Phillies' 22nd game of 2023 when he hit his first two of the season in the same game against the Colorado Rockies.

The outfielder is on a similar home run drought trajectory in 2024. The club has played 20 games entering their April 20 contest versus the White Sox and he has yet to hit a homer. Considering his past streakiness at the plate, Castellanos could hit his first home run of the year, or multiple in the same contest once again.

Following his game-winning hit during the April 13 game versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, Castellanos explained his approach during the at-bat, per Paul Hagen of NBC Sports Philadelphia: "Honestly, that was my first at-bat all year where I didn’t have an approach. I wasn’t looking for a pitch. Nothing. I was just ready to hit.”

The right fielder should consider taking the approach he had during the game-winning hit and using it during every plate appearance if he isn't doing so already. The Hialeah, Florida native is clearly in his head, as the majority of hitters are during slumps. He'll be in a better frame of mind once he breaks out of his struggles.

When that will be is anybody's guess. After all, according to Castellanos himself, "Happy people hit better."

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