Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Kole Calhoun: Potential Sleeper Value of Angels Outfielder


You’d have a hard time finding anyone who’d call the Los Angeles Angels season in 2013 a success but in Kole Calhoun, they might have found themselves another young outfielder to go with their all-world star, Mike Trout.

While the sample size was limited, Calhoun put up pretty solid numbers for the Halos while he was with the big club. 

Kole Calhoun: 2013 Stats

PA
AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
22219555298322.282.347.462

Over a full season’s worth of games (let’s say 620 plate appearances and 550 at-bats), this is what those numbers would have looked like if he continued to play at that clip. 

2013 Stats Extrapolated

Player
PA
AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Kole Calhoun6205501558123906.282.347.462

It’s admittedly always a little sketchy to extrapolate a full season’s worth of numbers with such a small sample size. After all, a guy who hits two homers and drives in four runs on Opening Day is on pace for 324 homers and 648 RBI. I’d like to see a fan of sabermetrics try to run those numbers down.

Still, while those extrapolated numbers were awfully good, they weren’t jaw-dropping or obviously unsustainable like a 2 HR/4 RBI per game pace would be, were they?

Well, thankfully we have his whole Minor League career to draw from to help us answer that question. 

MiLB Stats

PA
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
157813642645526345.317.402.541

Instead of extrapolating, now let’s see what those numbers would look like if he played one 620 plate appearance, 550 at-bat, 620 plate appearance at that pace.

PA
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
6205501032210618.317.402.541

Certainly he’s more dominant in the minors, as you’d expect, but the two 620 plate appearance, 550 at-bat seasons don’t look that different. At the very least, Calhoun showed that he’s up for the MLB adjustment, which is always important to know when projecting young players.

So, is it that simple? Can we just project that Kole Calhoun will be somewhere in between those stat-lines and be done with it? I wish, but nothing is ever that easy.

 

  • The Negatives

We’ll start by having a look at what MLB Depth Charts is projecting the Angels lineup to look like. 

Projected 2014 Angels Lineup

Order
Player
Bats
1.Erick AybarS
2.Mike TroutR
3.Albert PujolsR
4.Josh HamiltonL
5.David FreeseR
6.Raul IbanezL
7.Howie KendrickR
8.Kole CalhounL
9.Chris IannettaR
Okay, starting with a negative. There is no worse spot for an American League player to be than eighth. At the nine spot, you at least have the benefit of the top of the order immediately following you when you get on base. With all due respect to Chris Iannetta, I wouldn’t feel all that great about Calhoun scoring a run if he in scoring position with Iannetta at the plate and two outs.

Next, let’s have a look at what ESPN Park Factors tells us about the stadium where Calhoun will be taking roughly half of his at-bats.

Run Factors

Year
Anaheim
Rank
Average0.900 23
20091.020 15
20100.864 27
20110.836 27
20120.812 27
20130.968 19

HR Factors

Year
Anaheim
Rank
Average 0.89919
2009 1.220 2
20100.825 23
20110.789 25
20120.759 25
20130.902 20

Hit Factors

Year
Anaheim
Rank
Average 0.96220
2009 1.002 14
2010 0.946 24
2011 0.941 25
2012 0.90627
2013 1.014 10

Definitely a pitcher’s park.

But there are positives that can at least makes these negatives not look as bad, and we’ll start with the park factors this time.

No, it’s not a great place to hit, but of the three factors we went over, the “Hit Factor” was by far the closest to neutral. If Calhoun was a guy expected to come in and smack 35 or more bombs, I’d be a little more nervous. But the fact that he looks like a guy who’ll come in and be best as a good hitter with decent power sets my mind at ease a little.

As for the lineup, you don’t want to see a fantasy target hitting eighth, but we’re a long way from that being an everyday thing. Here’s what I can say pretty is pretty likely about that lineup. Mike Trout will bat somewhere in the 1-3 area, and Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton will take up two of the three spots in the 3-5 window. You can almost draw from a hat to choose the order of the rest of the guys.

That can work as a negative, as when Calhoun does get a chance to hit in a more prime spot, he’ll have to make good of it quickly because Mike Scioscia can pretty easily re-shuffle the deck quickly if Calhoun struggles. But can anyone tell me that if Calhoun is hitting well early in the year or even in Spring Training, that anyone other than Trout/Pujols/Hamilton will be considered when they’re thinking about moving him up? Doubtful.

Depending on how those three are shuffled, a strong start from Calhoun could easily land him anywhere in the Top-6 of the Angels order, which is much better.

 

So, what do the actual Draft Kit projections tell us about Kole Calhoun?

2014 Projections

Player
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Kole Calhoun5045815608.272.347.448

You definitely have to be conservative in projections, especially when talking about someone with such a limited track record, and those numbers appear conservative.

This is definitely a guy you’ll want to keep an eye on in Spring Training. If he’s doing well and it doesn’t appear as though he’s likely to be hitting eighth long term, this is a guy you’ll want to target. If he gets into a better spot and performs, he is surrounded by some talented players, who’ll give Calhoun all the help he needs to put up nice, complete numbers.

If you’re getting towards the end of your draft and are stuck between Calhoun and an older, “safer” veteran, go for the youngster with a high ceiling.

See Calhoun live by grabbing LA Angels tickets for the 2014 season!

 

Tags: Kole Calhoun Los Angeles Angels OF Sleepers