Snap question: Which Angels hitter trailed only Mike Trout in wRC+ in 2013 with at least 200 PA? If you don’t know the answer, take a second and go back and read the title. That’s right. It was Kole Calhoun with a wRC+ of 126. Not to shabby for a late season callup if you ask me.
With the exile of Peter Bourjos, Calhoun has been handed the keys to the starting job in right field for 2014. Welcome to the big leagues, Kole Calhoun.
Currently, Fangraphs is acting weird. So their Oliver projections are saying that Kole Calhoun will accrue 6.8 fWAR next year…in 286 games. Luckily, Steamer is not being wonky, and it is projecting a more reasonable 2.4 fWAR in 112 games with a .344 wOBA and a wRC+ of 121. That wRC+ would also have been second best on the Angels in 2013. Needless to say, Calhoun should be very valuable to the Angels offense.
But there is more benefits from Calhoun being in the lineup everyday than just what he provides offensively. Kole Calhoun is a right fielder. His presence allows the Angels to move Josh Hamilton back to left field, a position that Hambone is more comfortable at. Trout will be back in center field on an everyday basis. The outfield doesn’t boast the same speed that it did last year, but the upgrades are there.
Calhoun’s presence will also fill the Angels “Ginger Quota” for 2014. These types of things are important.
The most interesting thing about Calhoun however, is that there is a general excitement about him getting the starting job in 2014. Calhoun has always been a solid prospect, but there is nothing about him that is extraordinary. He hits well, he fields well, he runs well, but nothing is “great.”
All-in-all, the Angels are better with Kole Calhoun in the starting lineup than J.B. Shuck. That was the option they had last year, and they went with Shuck. And although J.B. is decent ballplayer, Kole is better in every facet of the game. And even though he no longer has rookie status, it will be a lot of fun to see what Kole does in his first full season in the big leagues.