LA Angels Kole Calhoun only plays the game one way: 110% all the time
By David Rice
When the LA Angels drafted Kole Calhoun in the 8th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft out of Arizona State he didn’t know that 9 years later he would be a 7-year MLB veteran.
The LA Angels have been lucky to have two players in their outfield that have been together since 2013 in Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout. That combination has provided a great deal of stability for the Angels and they may be the best right field-center field tandems in team history.
Calhoun has won a Gold Glove and Trout has been a finalist and both make eye-popping plays on a regular basis as well as multiple home run robberies. One thing that Calhoun possesses that is better than Mike Trout is his arm. Calhoun has a cannon for a left arm with 53 outfield assists in his career. The number would be much higher if not for the fact that most players know not to challenge Calhoun’s arm.
The relationship between Calhoun and Trout is very special as they have played together for seven seasons.
“He is someone I’ve played with my whole career. I’ve been right next to him and he has been right next me my whole career,” Calhoun said of Mike Trout. “We kind of got it figured out know because we have played together so many years we know how each other plays.”
“Our relationship has gotten built over the seasons and gets better and better over the years. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve gotten to see him do some great things. It’s been awesome being a teammate with him (Trout).”
Calhoun has been very consistent for most of his seven years in Anaheim hitting an average of 20 homers per year with 72 RBIs and carrying a career bating average of .250. This was until the 2018 season when Calhoun started off in a horrible slump hitting .145 with no homers and 10 RBIs through May 31st.
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Calhoun was placed on the injured list with a right oblique strain. This gave Calhoun the opportunity to relax and hit the reset button while working with now Angels hitting coach Jeremy Reed. The pair studied video and just worked out some kinks in Calhoun’s swing. The difference was amazing when Calhoun came off the IL in mid-June he got hot. Calhoun hit home runs in two of his first three games back and then really started rolling in July hitting .322 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs raising his average to .209. He continued to stay hot in August hitting four more homers and driving in 11 runs and his average reached a season high .228 on August 30th. Calhoun finished with a .209 average with 19 homer and 57 RBIs. His worst season in every category, but it could have been a whole lot worse if Calhoun wasn’t such a hard worker.
Calhoun plays the game hard every day and with a passion that is unmatched by most players. The will to succeed and to play well for the Angel fans that love him is what Calhoun says drives him.
“It’s awesome to play here. I think these fans really respect someone who plays hard, that’s the only thing I try to do,” Calhoun said. “I might not be the best player on the field every single night, but I’m going to play 110% and leave it all out on the field and doing anything I can do to help the team win that’s what I want to do.”
So far in 2019 Calhoun has had a productive season smacking 17 homers with 40 RBIs while hitting .231. Even though the average is not where Calhoun wants it to be he is on pace to set career-highs in home runs and RBIs if he keeps up this pace.
“It’s been a little bit of up and down. I’m still trying to work through a few things but I’m making some progress. Finding some consistency this year has helped,” Calhoun said. “I think in my whole career I’ve went through some ups and downs and I would always try to change some things. For the most part I’ve just stuck with some things since I came back from the DL last season and its paying off. I just want to do things to help the team win that’s what its all about.”
This season has been an adjustment for all the Angels with the arrival of new manager Brad Ausmus who replaced Mike Scioscia after 19 years on the job. With Calhoun being one of the veteran players on the Angels who played his whole career under Scioscia, but Calhoun said the transition has been smooth.
“It’s definitely different, Sosh was here for a long time. Any time you’re going to change managers especially as long as Scioscia was here it’s going to be different,” Calhoun said. “Not a knock on Sosh or kudos to Brad, it’s a fresh new face in the organization. it’s been good he been great. He just lets us go out there and play. They both have the same kind of mentality. It’s definitely nice to have a guy (Ausmus) like that at the helm.
Calhoun’s time in Anaheim may be coming to an end soon as he is in the last year of his contract, with next year being a club option for 14 million dollars which the Angels will have to decide on whether to exercise or let Kole walk. They could also decide to trade him for prospects before the July 31st trade deadline. They could also decide to sign him for less money for next season if Calhoun would accept that.
However, one thing Calhoun is emphatic is his love for the Angels and the Anaheim community.
“I can’t imagine being anywhere else. This is home to me. It is a place where I grew up. I became a husband here, became a father here,” Calhoun said. “This place has treated me like family, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I love being an Angel and being in Anaheim. I hope to be here for the rest of my career.”
With the way the fans love Kole and the way he loves Anaheim it would be nice if the Angels and Calhoun could work out a way for Kole to stay in Anaheim, but that may not be in the cards with all the outfield talent the Angels have in the minor league with Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh making their way up through the Angels minor league system.
For now though let’s appreciate what we have in Kole Calhoun, a guy who loves playing, plays hard and is a true role model to young Angel fans on how to play the game right.