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updated: 5/27/2012 8:04 PM

Why a really good team would hit Castro much lower

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  • Len Kasper is impressed with everything Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has accomplished in his young career, but he believes Castro needs more patience at the plate to be considered a true No. 3 hitter.

    Len Kasper is impressed with everything Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has accomplished in his young career, but he believes Castro needs more patience at the plate to be considered a true No. 3 hitter.
    Associated Press


Q. At this point in Starlin Castro's career, where do you think is his ideal spot in this Cubs batting order? And what is the ideal spot eventually?

A. This is a timely question because I made what has been called an eyebrow-raising comment on a recent broadcast when I said right now, in a good lineup, I think he'd be a really good No. 7 hitter.

Now, on its face, that sounds blasphemous, but let me explain.

First off, Starlin is a hit machine. And to have accomplished what he has at such a young age is remarkable. He has gone above and beyond what anybody could ever ask of such a young player.

However, if he wants to be a No. 3 hitter in perpetuity, he must fundamentally improve his plate discipline and power.

I do think he will hit more home runs as time goes on. But his .300-plus average does hide one thing that we can't ignore -- his lack of patience. His walks to strikeouts ratio is very low and that is a difficult one to drastically improve over time.

Again, he is only 22, but there just aren't many elite hitters who don't balance out that ratio and the prevailing school of thought is that patience is generally something you don't markedly improve as time goes on. You are what you are, the saying goes.

Now, as a shortstop, you don't expect him to put up numbers that a first baseman or a corner outfielder would. But when you stick him in the three hole, now you are being compared to guys like Joey Votto, Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton.

So, my point was, in a high-scoring lineup, you stick a hitter of his caliber in the seven spot and he'd be above average.

For instance, the No. 7 hitter in the Cardinals' lineup has put up a .723 OPS (through Friday) this season. Castro's is .738.

Now, the Cubs are not on par with the Cardinals offensively, but that's why I made a point to say, "In a good lineup ...".

With the Cubs, he fits in the top three spots, no doubt. But, as the Cubs add better hitters to the order, I am not quite sure yet that you can just write him into the three spot in ink. I think that question remains very open.

Q. David DeJesus has flown under the radar amid the Cubs' struggles. What do you like about his game?

A. I think he does everything well. Nothing great, but nothing below average.

Actually, he is pretty similar to his predecessor in right field, Kosuke Fukudome.

But David's advantage is that he has been much more affordable. His best skill is working the count, something this team desperately needs.

Q. You just finished a series at PNC Park. Is it the best park in the NL? What are your favorites?

A. They absolutely aced it. The park itself is clean and simple. A very old school feel. The way it frames the downtown skyline is just breathtaking. I have always liked coming to Pittsburgh and the ballpark is a big reason why.

My No. 1 favorite is AT&T Park in San Francisco. Of all the modern parks, that is as close to Wrigley Field as it gets -- it's an intimate park on a small footprint tucked into a pretty busy neighborhood.

It has a very festive feel, just like Wrigley. Then there's the view of the bay which you can't beat.

My other favorite is Dodger Stadium. For a park built in 1962, it has held up extremely well. Plus, I always look forward to hearing the golden tones of Vin Scully in the booth next door.

• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter;[URL]. Subscriber Total Access members can email him [/URL]questions;[URL] each week via our online link.[/URL]

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