Kole Calhoun Might be the Angels Leadoff Hitter in 2014
Sep 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) hits a single in the seventh inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers beat the Angels 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
It would have been easy to understand if Kole Calhoun had thought that his path to the majors was blocked. His debut in 2012 was fairly underwhelming, as he only went 4-23, striking out six times. That very offseason, the Angels went out and signed Josh Hamilton to a five year contract. It would have appeared as though Calhoun did not have much of a future with the Angels.
However, things sometimes turn out differently than expected. With Hamilton struggling and Albert Pujols going on the disabled list when his plantar fasciitis resulted in a tear in his foot, Calhoun was given a second chance. This time, he took full advantage, posting a .282/.347/.462 batting line with eight home runs. Although he struggled defensively, finishing with the second most errors for a right fielder despite playing only 54 games in right, Calhoun was much better the second time around.
Now, it appears as though the Angels are ready to show their faith in Kole Calhoun. With a week before Spring Training games begin, Calhoun is expected to not only be the Angels starting right fielder, but is also expected to be the Angels leadoff hitter, batting in front of Mike Trout, Pujols and Hamilton.
Although Calhoun has not flashed great speed at the major league level, being successful on only three of five stolen base attempts, he was a lot more successful in the minor leagues. During that time, Calhoun stole 45 bases out of 61 attempts. He was even better at the AAA level, being successful on 22 of 27 tries. Calhoun was also an on base machine, posting a .402 on base percentage during his minor league tenure.
It is unlikely that Kole Calhoun gets on base at that rate next season, but his solid plate discipline could lead to Calhoun being a solid leadoff hitter. He displayed the potential to hit twenty home runs and steal twenty bases in the minors, and even if he hits fifteen home runs while stealing around twenty bases, that would still be plenty of production from the leadoff spot. As long as he is getting on base in front of Trout, Pujols and Hamilton, that is really all that is being asked.
Kole Calhoun got a second chance last season, and made the most of it. Now, Calhoun could find himself atop the Angels lineup.