Kole Calhoun – OF, Los Angeles Angels
At long last we arrive at a left-handed hitter. I haven’t seen, read, or heard anything one way or the other on whether the Angels plan to pick up Kole Calhoun‘s $14-million club option for 2020, but considering the holes in their pitching staff along with the large amounts of money they have tied up in the immovable contracts of Albert Pujols and Justin Upton, it stands to reason that they’ll choose to allocate that $14 million elsewhere.
If Calhoun indeed makes it to free agency this winter, I can see him being discussed as a fit for plenty of teams, including the Indians. He is in fact a lefty, which, as we’ve discussed, the Indians could use. He’s also coming off a career year in which he hit 33 home runs. As such, there’s likely to be a market for him in the event the Angels choose to part ways.
But there are some holes in his plate profile that detract from some otherwise inviting numbers. Calhoun’s swinging strike rate has increased in each of the last three seasons, topping out at 14.7% in 2019, which ranked 11th-highest in MLB. His 69.5% contact rate was the ninth-lowest in the league.
In other words, we’re looking at a strikeout-prone hitter who happened to benefit from a career-best 22.9% HR/FB rate in 2019. We like that he’s kept his walk rate near or above 10% (topping out at a career-high 11.1% this season) every year since 2016. But is that enough to live with the swing-and-miss tendencies and hope that his 2019 homer total isn’t a glaring outlier?
As I construct a hypothetical lineup featuring Calhoun in right field, I can see him batting somewhere between Franmil Reyes and Roberto Perez. That’s three strikeout candidates in close proximity to each other in a lineup that frequently failed to score runs in 2019.
Moreover, Calhoun took a step back defensively in 2019, posting his first campaign with negative defensive runs saved since 2013.
Long story short, I’m not comfortable betting on another 30-homer season out of Calhoun, and all other things being equal, I’d prefer to see if Zimmer can finally take a step forward if the alternative is signing the current Angels right fielder.