The acquisition of Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs following the 2015 season solidified the second base position for the Yankees. In his first campaign in pinstripes, Castro came back from an inconsistent first half to collect 56 hits in the final two months of the regular season, finishing with a .270 batting average and a career-high 21 home runs.
The four-time All-Star, who at 27 years old already has more than 1,200 hits to his name, has proven to be one of baseball's best hitters this season. As of mid-July, he was batting .309 with 12 home runs and 45 RBI, despite missing about three weeks -- and his fourth All-Star Game -- with a hamstring strain.
Before his stint on the DL, Castro took a morning to try on some new threads at a fine tailored clothing company in New York City. While he was there, Yankees Magazine spoke with him about baseball and fashion.
You and your teammates travel quite a bit. How much do you enjoy shopping for suits and wearing them on the road?
I enjoy it a lot. I always want to look good. When people see me in a hotel or on TV, I want them to say, "He looks good. He's got class and style." I enjoy choosing a different suit for each day.
Who are the best-dressed players on the team?
Didi Gregorius, Albertin Chapman and Matthew Holliday. And me. (Laughs)
How would you describe your style?
It's pretty clean. I think I have a pretty good sense of what looks good.
Switching gears to baseball, you really came on strong in the last two months of the 2016 season. What do you feel contributed to that late surge?
I felt good. It wasn't the first time in my career that I was able to get hot in the second half of a season. Having already gone through that helped me last season. When I was with the Cubs, I had a few years in which I struggled for a few months and then turned things around. I just kept fighting, but I didn't change anything that I was doing at the plate.
What has it been like to be a steady contributor on a team that has had a lot of high-profile personnel changes in the last year?
Well, that's how baseball is. Players come and players leave all the time. But you have to do your job, and I think I have done that. At this point, we have a really good young team. We had a lot of changes, but they were good changes. When we got younger, we started playing better baseball, and we've continued to do that this season. We have a great mix of veterans and young guys, and that's what we need.
You hit a career-high 21 home runs last season, and you already have 12 in 2017. How do you feel?
I don't really go up to the plate thinking about hitting home runs. I just try to have a quality at-bat each time up. But I feel good about how I've been able to add some power to my game and to our lineup. I want to be able to do as many things for the team as I can, so if I'm hitting more home runs than anyone expected, that's another way I can help win games.
What were your goals coming out of Spring Training this year?
Stay healthy and be better than I was last season.
How did you feel at the beginning of this season, as compared to the start of last year?
I felt a lot stronger. I worked harder this offseason than I did in the past. My body felt great, and mentally, I was more relaxed and more confident than I had been in a while. It's a long season, but I still feel really good. I think I will continue to be consistent, and when the year is over, I think I'll be happy with it.
You started off well this year, both in the team's first regular-season game and in the home opener. How important was it for you to start things off that way?
It was really important. I wanted to play well from the start. You never know when you're going to struggle, but it's harder to get going when you aren't doing well at the beginning of the season, because you haven't done anything to help the team yet.
It seems as if this year's team is having as much fun on the field as any club in baseball. How enjoyable is it for you to be part of this group?
It's been a great time. I've never had as much fun with any other team that I've been on. We enjoy the time we spend together, and we all get along. Also, this team plays hard, and we never quit. We pick each other up, and we've got each other's backs. It's got a different feel to it than in other seasons.
On this club, you're a veteran. How have you taken some of the younger players under your wing?
I spend a lot of time with the younger guys, especially Ronald Torreyes, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino. I always try to help them and let them know what I think about how they are going about things, the same way Alfonso Soriano did for me when I was a young player with the Cubs.
Are you at all surprised by how well the team has played this season?
Not at all. When I got to Spring Training, I believed this team could win a lot of games. We have a great bullpen, starting pitchers who can win consistently, and a lineup that has some good players. We can steal bases, hit home runs and score runs.
How much did you enjoy being back in Wrigley Field in May and competing against your former team, especially since you played so well that weekend?
I enjoyed it a lot. I couldn't wait for that series. I will always be thankful to the Cubs because they gave me an opportunity to play in the Majors, and it was a lot of fun to be back at that ballpark.
It felt weird to be in the visiting clubhouse. It was the first time I had ever been in that clubhouse. I know it's an old stadium, but I didn't realize that clubhouse was as small as it actually is.
It seems like you're more disciplined at the plate than you have been in previous seasons. Have you changed your preparation or approach?
I watch my at-bats on video more than I have in the past. I know that there will be times when I will chase pitches, but I'm making an effort to have four or five good at-bats each game. I'm at a point in my career where I shouldn't be giving any at-bats away. Not chasing as many pitches as I did in the past has helped me a lot.
How much more comfortable are you at second base now that you have been at that position for almost two years?
I feel like it's my natural position, and I didn't feel like that before this season. It feels normal to me now to turn double plays from second base. Even though we are a few months into the season, I still feel that it's important to take as many ground balls during batting practice as I can. I have a pretty good routine out there.
As one of baseball's batting average leaders as of mid-July, have your goals for this season changed at all since Spring Training?
Besides staying healthy and improving on what I did last season, the most important goals I have now are to continue to do what I've been doing, get to the postseason and hopefully make it to the World Series.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.