Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber entered his Tuesday start against the Reds (CLE-CIN GameTracker) having allowed no runs in his first 14 innings of the 2020 season. He retired the first two batters he faced in Cincy, but then Nick Castellanos happened:
That's a 95 mph four-seamer on the inside corner, and based on Sandy Leon's mitt placement it's pretty much where Bieber wanted it. Castellanos, though, turned it around at 105.5 mph and sent it 409 feet.
That's Castellanos' sixth home run this season, and those six taters have all come in the last seven games. As of Tuesday's blast, he's now batting .400/.475/1.000. The good news for Castellanos and the Reds is that he pretty much deserves to be batting .400/.475/1.000. Coming into Tuesday, Castellanos based on Statcast batted ball data had an expected batting average of .420 and an expected slugging percentage of .917. In terms of more advanced metrics, Castellanos' weighted on base average (wOBA), which assigns proper value to every possible offensive event that happens while a batter is at the plate, was .543 coming into Tuesday night's game. That's an absurdly high figure, and his expected wOBA (the wOBA he "deserves" based on quality of contact) is even higher at .565. All of these numbers are even better as of that bomb off Bieber.
No, Castellanos isn't going to continue producing like this across a larger sample, but the drop-off may not be as steep as you think given his elite exit velocity and power-conducive launch angle off the bat. Castellanos, in his eighth MLB season, has long been a productive hitter, but he seemed to unlock a higher level when he was traded from the Tigers to the Cubs at least year's deadline. When the Reds inked him to a four-year, $64 million pact, they were betting he could sustain his post-trade levels of production. In the early days of the 2020 season, he's done that and then some and done it in a fashion that suggests he's genuinely an elite producer at the plate.