LA Angels in the Outfield Pt. 1: The Red Baron
By Benny Bam
LA Angels in the Outfield; Trout, Upton, Calhoun, Goodwin, and Fletcher? Do you know many teams that carry five outfield options? Yes, Fletcher is an infielder, but with La Stella hitting, Simmons Simba-ing, Cozart cozying, Pujols Machining, Bour being Boring, and Ohtani DHing, someone may end up a casualty when Upton comes up off the IL for air.
What if instead of Bour, as may be expected with the lefty Ohtani being far more effective as a FT hitter than Bour is at his own role versus righties, the LA Angels decided to cut an outfielder?
Los Angeles Angels fans just witnessed a number of roster adjustments in the face of Injured List returns. Luis Rengifo sent down to make room for an underwhelming Zack Cozart. Peter Bourjos designated for assignment to move the deck chairs around for Shohei to hit.
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Then, Griffin Canning emerging from a previously baron pitching farm system, causing Chris Stratton to be exposed as not being strapped in tight enough to keep from being pillaged by Pirates for straight loot. Boy, people in Pittsburgh are in for a rotten skull and crossbones sized Caribbean surprise… a treasure chest full of coal. Speaking of Kole…
If an outfielder is the choice Eppler, Ausmus, and others in the organization choose over losing Bour or someone with a larger contract… which outfielder would be at risk? As proposed on my own show, Halo Heat, I am taking the side of keeping Kole Calhoun.
Meanwhile, Hangout Co-Editor Vincent Page is taking Brian Goodwin. I love B-Good, and what he brings daily to the team, in advanced metrics, effort, attitude, and lefty or righty production as at least an average corner outfielder on defense. I just love Calhoun more… as an Angel. First of all, at-bats alone may be slightly in Calhoun’s favor, but why does he get more at-bats in the first place? Defense. Let me quote… well, myself in Becoming Kole Calhoun on Hangout from a few months ago.
"Baron; the original definition was a member of the lowest order of the British nobility. The term “Baron” is not used as a form of address in Britain, with Barons usually being referred to as “Lords”. Nowadays a Baron is an important or powerful person in a specified business or industry. Someone who sets the bar at their position(RF). In a place called Buckeye, Arizona back in the 87th year of the 1900’s, on exactly the 4th day of October- the definition became forever altered. And considerably red.Nostalgia is like a fine wine that keeps aging by the carefully placed barrel. Reinvigorating our senses with half-filled aroma glasses from a time that conjures feelings we thought may never be felt or tasted again. In baseball, aged wine is enjoyed through the Hall of Fame, the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, CY Young, MVP, and other awards in a timeless never ending reel of who the best of the best could be. By position, talent, draft position, scouting report, and more recently saber-metric superiority defining an album of historical recognition that’s kind to those who fit the bill. Kole Calhoun provides a wide consensus on what them term Angel really means.An established Starter, Gold Glover, and emerging hitter protected in the lineup by two of the best hitters of all-time. His 28-year-old season he played 154 games with 306 balls hit his way. I know, his fielding fell to a luke-warm 98.4% behind his 9 Assists and 5 Errors. Keep in mind that Kole Calhoun isn’t out there jogging to balls to make routine outs every time.He is the definition of hustle. Reading, sprinting, laying out, and believe it or not, helping Mike Trout recover on the few balls he misreads to right-center. People who think Trout would be the same or better without Kole in right don’t understand why the lowest level of royalty is still royalty. It’s like people who say Jordan could have won without Pippen. Calhoun’s defense allows Trout’s offense to be more impactful. If you are down by 6, what does the last shot even mean?It’s still impressive today, but it isn’t lasting. At worst, Kole Calhoun is the tab in the file that helps you get to the archive of Mike Trout. At best, he’s much more than that. His Batting Average in 16′ was .271, accompanied by 18 Home Runs, 35 Doubles, 161 Hits, and 75 RBI’s. 2017 saw his fielding at a career high of 98.8% with only 4 Errors to 10 Assists(312 chances). At 29, he wrapped this Chapter in 17′ with 155 games, a .244 BA, 71 walks, 139 Hits, but 134 Strike Outs in 569 Plate Appearances."
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Here we are in 2019, in what appears to be Calhoun’s contractual swan song with the Halos. Batting a pedestrian .239 with nine home runs and 24 runs batted in. Our opposing potential outfield casualty, B-Good?
Four homers, 13 runs batted in, and a very solid .318 batting average in 35 games since being claimed March 27th by LAA. Goodwin’s career average is a more menial .263. Showing that 2019 is an impressive, but likely temporary spike so far.
We can all agree Goodwin is far better than an average replacement for the time being for Justin Upton, and admit beyond that he is a far better fourth option once J-UP returns. One thing he is not, is a solid replacement for a career 96% Right Fielder in Calhoun.
Occasionally spelling Kole and Justin makes a lot of sense and prevents further IL stints by Upton. That would be a smart strategy by Brad Ausmus to get through a season keeping a fresh outfield in tact.
Goodwin has seven errors and seven assists in 168 career games(2015-19′). Over a similar recent span, Calhoun has played over 170 games since the start of 2018, tallying 9 assists and 6 errors in that time. Not to mention being the very symbolism of hustle in full horizontal layouts, wall crashing smashes, and full speed catches in running gallops.
Getting rid of KC for a guy with close offensive production, less power, and less defensive prowess and familiarity with your stud Centerfield neighbor would be simply silly. Especially with lofty expectations from a sparkling new 12 year contract and a pending stadium conundrum.
There’s a reason Kole Calhoun has been the Right Fielder since 2012 for the Angels over guys that look a lot like the numbers of Brian Goodwin. He represents what Jered Weaver, John Lackey, Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad, and a handful of other grinders did as Angels before him… heart. It’s going to take a lot more than 36 games for Brian Goodwin to be quite THAT good.
But he is off to a solid start.