Julián Castillo Calderón de la Barça (Big)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 240 lb.
Julián Castillo was one of the top hitters in the Cuban Winter League during the Deadball Era. He won four batting titles and led the league in doubles seven times. He also led in triples, home runs, slugging, OBP, OPS and OPS+. A big first baseman, he was not noted for speed or defense.
Castillo debuted in 1901 with San Francisco, setting the all-time CWL record with a .454 batting average. He also led the loop with 30 hits and five doubles. He moved to Club Fé in 1902 and did not rank among the leaders. In 1903, he starred for Habana, leading in average (.330), hits (37), triples (4) and home runs (2, tied). He slugged .464. In 1904, he again helped Habana to the title, leading the league with 5 triples. He hit .358 and slugged .537. He finished second in average to Regino García.
Castillo hit .308/.368/.433 for Habana in 1905. He led in OBP, slugging, average (.025 ahead of Al Cabrera, the runner-up), OPS+ (a whopping 226), triples (4) and home runs (1, tied). He had 20 errors in 27 games at first base. In 1906, he returned to Club Fé and won the title with them. His batting line was .238/.354/.321 in an off-year. With offensive levels low, he was still second in OBP (behind Carlos Morán), 6th in average, 5th in slugging, third in OPS+ (182) and first in doubles (5).
Julián was at .254/.341/.368 with a 164 OPS+ in 1907 to finish 6th in slugging, 8th in OPS+, first in doubles (5) and first in triples (4). The Havana native nicknamed "Big" kept on pounding the ball in 1908, when he returned to the Habana club. He scored 26 runs in 35 games to tie Emilio Palomino for 6th in the league, tied Bobby Winston for third in hits (36), tied for the most doubles (4), tied Winston for 5th in walks (20), was third in average (.308, behind Palomino and future Hall of Famer Pete Hill), third in OBP (.426, behind Hill and Home Run Johnson), was 5th in slugging (.359) and fourth in OPS+ (175, behind Hill, Palomino and Johnson). That year, he was just 4 for 25 in an exhibition series with the Brooklyn Royal Giants.
In 1908-1909, the 28/29-year-old was with Fé for a third go-around. He produced at a .301/.391/.382 clip. He struggled with the glove, making 33 errors in 38 contests. He led the league with 9 doubles, tied Carlos Morán for 4th in walks (18), was second to Palomino in average (by .010), was third in OBP (behind Johnson and Ashby Dunbar), led in slugging (.009 over Dunbar) and was second in OPS+ (196, one behind Dunbar).
Castillo won his fourth batting title in 1910 (.377/.443/.472, 262 OPS+, while playing for Almendares and helping them win it all. Cuban historian Jorge Figueredo listed him as tying Regino García for the most batting championships in Cuban history, but research by Gary Ashwill has shown that García was incorrectly credited with at least one of his. In '10, Castillo beat out Luis Bustamante by 20 points for the batting title, was third in OBP (behind Carlos Morán and Bustamante), was second to Regino García in slugging and was second in OPS+ (262, two points behind García), his second straight time nearly leading in that category. Also that year, he hit .273 in an exhibition against the Leland Giants but was only 2 for 23 against white major league pitchers.
In the winter of 1910-1911, he hit .231/.375/.250; as it was still the Deadball Era, he had a 115 OPS+. He was 7th in OBP. On the other hand, he was much better this year against white major league hurlers, hitting .405. He also got his only extensive action playing in the US, hitting .182 as the starting first baseman for the All-Cubans in the Negro Leagues. He got his fourth stint with Club Fé in the 1912 season in Cuba. He hit .263/.336/.535 for a 178 OPS+. He hit five home runs off US Hall-of-Famer José Méndez, twice having two-homer games, setting a new Cuban record. No one would break his mark until well in the livelier ball era, when Mule Suttles (another Hall of Famer) hit 7 of them in 1929-1930. No one else had even more than one homer in 1912. The hefty Castillo also led the circuit in doubles (7), slugging (55 points ahead of Home Run Johnson) and second in OPS+ (199, 7 points shy of Johnson).
Castillo played his final season in 1912-1913 and batted .326/.426/.435 for Almendares. He tied Agustín Parpetti and Judy Gans for the most doubles (5), tied for the home run lead (1), ranked 5th in OBP, 8th in slugging and 7th in OPS+ (156).
Among players with 1,000+ career at-bats, Castillo ranked 6th in Cuban Winter League history in average, behind Cristobal Torriente, Alejandro Oms, John Henry Lloyd, Willie Wells and Bernardo Baró, all of whom played in an era with a livelier ball. In 1943, he was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Luis Padrón and Heliodoro Hidalgo, one of the first 20 honorees.
From 1904-1913, Castillo ranked first in Cuba in Win Shares on offense (41.0) and was third for total Win Shares behind star hurlers José Méndez and José Muñoz. During that same decade, his 41 doubles were more than double runner-up Carlos Morán, his 16 triples were the most, only Luis Padrón had more homers and his 185 OPS+ was first (4 points ahead of Cooperstown inductee Pete Hill).