2023 In One Sentence
In his rookie year, Triston Casas powered through some early struggles to become one of the elite hitters in all of baseball over a two-month stretch, before his season, once again, ended with an injury.
Triston Casas handled the adversity of a slow start to the 2023 season and stuck to his principles as a hitter, despite the calls by some for a demotion to the minor leagues. The 23-year-old entered June 3 hitting just .188, but had remained patient at the plate and was taking walks at a 14.2% clip — and then he absolutely took off from there. For the remaining two-thirds of the season, Casas was seventh in all of MLB (min. 300 PAs) in both OPS (.966) and wRC+ (159). His .304 batting average in that time proved that he can be more than just an on-base monster in his prime. After the All-Star break, Casas slashed .317/.417/.617 with 15 HR and 38 RBI in 54 games before his season was cut short by injury.
Casas hit the ball hard with his Barrel% and Hard Hit% sitting in the top 20% of the league, and he rarely chased out of the zone, with an 86th percentile chase rate. He handled pressure situations well, delivering an OBP of .403 in 72 “late and close” plate appearances on the season. Finally, Casas hit the ball to all fields, not only on singles but on his extra-base hits as well. The huge in-game power was evident once he got in a groove, including multiple home runs that were hit 430+ feet to left-center field.
First and foremost, Casas’ season ended early with shoulder inflammation, missing the final 16 games of the season. This has started to become a trend for Casas, who missed over two months of the 2022 season in Triple-A with a high ankle sprain. The team tried to compensate for the fewer at-bats, sending Casas to the Dominican Winter League where he was pulled out of there after just a couple of games due to knee soreness. Now that he’s mixing in a shoulder injury, his health is something to keep an eye on.
On the field, just about everything went wrong for Casas over the first two months of the season. Using the same June 3 cutoff from above, Casas entered that day hitting .188, slugging just .342, with an OPS of .642. Only Kyle Schwarber had a worse batting average in all of baseball at that point, out of 164 qualified hitters. His 27.8 K% at the time far exceeded any K-rate that Casas had encountered in the minor leagues.
Defensively, Casas was second from the bottom out of 37 first basemen in Outs Above Average on Statcast, with a final tally of negative-10 OAA. Using Fangraphs’ DRS metric, it’s not as drastic with a -4 DRS, finishing 25th of 31 first basemen (min: 500 IP at 1B). Either way, this is the area of his game that Casas needs to work on most entering the 2024 season. He was plenty aggressive defensively, often attempting to make some riskier throws to other bases. Entering just his age-24 season, working with the coaching staff, and getting more experience at the highest level is the only way for Casas to improve.
Best Game Or Moment
Going against Giants ace Logan Webb on July 28, Casas opened the scoring in the game with a 382-foot RBI double in the second inning. In the fifth though, he extended the lead to 2-0 on a mammoth shot off of Webb. Taking the ball (slightly) to the opposite field, Casas hit the ball 435 feet to left-center, capping off a month of July in which he hit .349, slugged .758, and hit seven home runs. The Red Sox went on to win the game 3 to 2.
The Big Question/2024 and Beyond
Can Triston Casas go an entire season without landing on the injured list? He is 6 foot 5, and approximately 250 pounds; a big body who is on his feet for 162 games a year and could be more prone to lower body injuries. With ankle, knee, and shoulder injuries on the list from the past two seasons, the only thing that could prevent Casas from vaulting himself into a perennial top-5 first baseman is Casas’ body breaking down. On November 8, Craig Breslow noted that Casas was close to beginning a hitting program. If healthy, we could see a 40 home run bat protecting Rafael Devers as early as this season.