For now, the LA Angels outfield is set. Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Brian Goodwin are the obvious starters.
However, when Justin Upton fully recovers from his turf toe injury, is there a chance that Brian Goodwin could stay in the starting lineup while Calhoun rides the pine?
The idea for this came while listening to the Locked On Angels podcast hosted by Taylor Blake Ward (highly recommend for any Halo fan), as a listener submitted a question with this very proposal.
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Ward went on to discuss there’s a lot of time before Upton returns and the Angels have to make that decision. However, there’s no denying that if Upton were to return tomorrow, it’d be a huge debate amongst Halo fans.
Few players are loved as much as Calhoun amongst Angels fans. However, for the second straight season, Calhoun is having an awful start in the batter’s box. He is slashing .190/.254/.379 in 15 games this year, and has struck out 16 times. Those numbers would look even worse if not for a three hit showing Monday night in Arlington.
As for Goodwin, he is absolutely crushing the ball at the plate. Signed by the Angels just 24 hours prior to Opening Day, he has been an A+ finding for Billy Eppler and Co.
While his sample size is smaller, Goodwin is slashing .333/.386/.564 so for this season. He already beat out Peter Bourjos for the everyday spot in left field, and could very well end up in right field in the months to come.
For Calhoun, the concern is more than just a slow start. This is the second straight season he has struggled to hit above the Mendoza Line in the opening months, and with him hitting free agency after this year, the Angels have very little commitment to play him if he isn’t producing for them at the plate. That makes this a legitimate competition for right field, as neither Calhoun nor Goodwin are in the Angels’ long term plans.
On defense, the obvious edge goes to Kole Calhoun. While Goodwin has an adequate range to play any of the three outfield spots (the reason he was such a great bench option), Calhoun has the instincts, range, and an elite arm. That combination makes him one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. And while his defense has helped the team win games this year and in years past, if he isn’t even hitting .200 at the plate, it’s all for naught.
This article isn’t to say Goodwin should start over Calhoun, but I’m also not saying Calhoun should continue to be handed the starting job once Justin Upton returns. In all likelihood the Angels still have 6-8 weeks to decide, and that gives Calhoun time to break out of his slump, while also giving Goodwin time to regress to his career average.