Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
One of the Angels’ biggest question marks coming into the season was who would be the lead-off man.
Coming into Spring Training the competition was between Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, and Kole Calhoun. Most people in the Angels organization thought it was Calhoun’s job to lose. He quickly proved throughout Spring Training he was the guy that belonged in the leadoff spot.
Calhoun made his major league debut in 2012, but wasn’t recognized until 2013 when he got the late season call up to the struggling Halos. He didn’t bat leadoff right away, but as he developed over the next few months, he was moved to the of the lineup.
In his short stint last season, Calhoun batted .282 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs. He also showed tremendous plate discipline walking a total of 21 times with only 41 strikeouts.
Calhoun, however, is not a typical leadoff hitter mainly because he does not possess the speed for it. For the Angels the speed aspect is not necessary, especially with Mike Trout batting second.
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The other options were Aybar and Kendrick who both have leadoff experience. If Mike Scioscia had to choose between the two he would probably choose Aybar, however his career as a leadoff hitter, he has hit only .272. Aybar has had much more success as a low part of the order hitter.
In 2014, he has proved to be a major run producer behind the bigger bats as he has driven in 50 runs. The other guy, Kendrick, has batted leadoff before but in a small sample size. The tools that he brings to the table just simply do not belong in that spot of the order.
Kendrick belongs near the middle to drive in runners with his excellent approach at the plate. Not to say that these players did not do a good job when they were put in the lead-off spot, it’s just that the skills they contribute belong in another part of the order.
For much of the 2014 season, the Angels have had a platoon situation in right field between Collin Cowgill and Calhoun. Cowgill gets most of his at-bats versus lefties where Calhoun has played primarily against righties.
The numbers prove that the Angels should cut off the platoon and just play Calhoun everyday. Calhoun has a much higher batting average vs lefties at .340 than righties at .262, and an overall batting average of .295.
The recent injury to Cowgill gives Calhoun the opportunity to really show Scioscia that he belongs in the lead-off spot everyday. With Trout having a career year at the plate, and Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton having great years, it’s important for the Angels to have a guy that can get on base more times than not.
For the Angels to keep winning games, the should play Calhoun in the lead-off spot everyday.