Jul 7, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) on base after a double in the fifth inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
You would think that being the breakout star and second best position player on a team with the best record in the Majors would garner quite a bit of media attention.
Such isn’t the case for Kole Calhoun, who has put together a spectacular season about as quietly as one can.
After spending his initial two stints in the big leagues serving primarily as a backup outfielder, Calhoun now commands the highest batting average on the team at .295. His .841 OPS is second only to Mike Trout’s monstrous .939. And his 142 wRC+ has him ranked as the 5th best outfielder offensively in the AL.
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Not to mention that despite only playing in 88 games of the season due to an early trip on the disabled list (ankle), he has accumulated a stellar 3.2 fWAR.
So how exactly did somebody so valuable manage to fly under the radar? For starters, he hasn’t necessarily excelled in the “sexy stats.” He has shown good power in his shortened season with 13 homers, which is especially proficient for a leadoff hitter. But it’s hard to visualize him participating in a Home Run Derby anytime soon.
And while he does possess good speed, he isn’t known to create chaos as a base-stealing threat the way other nimble leadoff hitters such as Dee Gordon of the neighboring Los Angeles Dodgers or Jose Altuve of the division rival Houston Astros have been doing. Not coincidentally, the two of them have been getting quite a bit of attention on a national scale (as well as All-Star selections), though deservedly so as they are currently having big seasons of their own.
But probably an even more considerable factor in Calhoun getting overlooked would be his teammates. It sounds odd, but let’s take a look at who he shares the field with.
First baseman Albert Pujols is a baseball icon with more trophies than you can count after dominating the sport for a decade. Middle infielder All-Stars Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar make up a fan favorite defensive force and are currently the longest tenured Angels on the roster (along with longtime ace Jered Weaver who debuted with them in 2006). Third baseman David Freese has the distinction of being the only player on the team to win a World Series MVP Award with his storybook heroics in 2011.
Then we get to the outfield. Angels have a former MVP and batting champion, not to mention 3-time Silver Slugger and 5-time All-Star, manning the left field in Josh Hamilton. He is also known for being one of the biggest inspirational stories in recent sports memory; so much so that Casey Affleck is making a movie about him.
At center is Mike Trout, who might not need an introduction. The recently turned 23-year old baseball prodigy has been recognized by many as the best player in the world since his rookie season in 2012. He can potentially pick up a number of MVP Awards himself.
That would make for a lot of accolades and star power on one team.
Kole Calhoun hasn’t stockpiled any fancy titles or awards (not yet at least). He isn’t contending to be the 2014 leader in home runs or stolen bases. And to my knowledge, he doesn’t have a biopic directed by Casey Affleck being developed.
What he has done however is solidify himself as a consistently reliable piece and a major driving force behind a team with World Series aspirations.
I’d say that’s plenty good enough.