Calhoun a quiet boon to Halos' lineup
Angels' 'five-tool player' thrives at plate, on base -- and out of spotlight
CHICAGO -- On a team with two superstars in its lineup, outfielder Kole Calhoun is often an afterthought when it comes to the Angels' success. But on a team in the hunt of the postseason, Calhoun may be having one of the biggest impacts on his team.
He ranks second on the team in Wins Above Replacement, has the ability to hit for power, and is either second or third in most major offensive categories. Near the top of the lineup, he brings the ability to get on base and the speed to make plays happen. He has made just three errors in right field and more than a handful of highlight-worthy plays.
His teammates know how far his impact extends, even if the common fan doesn't. Calhoun may not do the talking as he sits out of the spotlight, but his teammates are more than willing to oblige.
"I think he's more than a table setter," said Chris Iannetta. "He's capable of carrying the team for a stretch. There's been several games where he's carried us, been our only offense.
"He's definitely a five-tool player. He does it all, and he doesn't get enough recognition for what he actually brings to the team."
Even Shane Victorino, acquired less than a month ago, sees the impact he brings.
"Unless you see it every day, you don't understand from afar," Victorino said. "People underrate him. When the game starts he's about being the best player he can be."
Calhoun is hitting .274 this season with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs while posting a .330 on-base percentage. He trails only Mike Trout -- who ranks in the top 10 of every major batting category in the American League -- in WAR.
Those numbers aren't even Calhoun's best in his young three-year career. As he came up behind Trout, Calhoun has been one of the Angels' best hitters, but he hasn't earned the praise that he might on other teams. He's not looking for it either, because Calhoun has thrived batting second in the lineup as of late.
"I think he plays off that, and it lets him go out there and play," said outfielder David DeJesus. "Kole is one of those guys you need on your team, one of those quiet leaders who's going to go out there and prepare himself.
"I've been in amazement of his work ethic. He takes every thing seriously, and he takes pride in every aspect of the game. Yes, he's underrated, but he's going to be a very quality player in this game."
Calhoun had his best offensive month in July, and he continues to heat up in the month of August, with three home runs already. This doesn't bode well for AL managers, who might be the only ones outside of the Angels who understand his impact.
"I don't think there's a manager I've talked to that hasn't talked in a positive way about Kole," said manager Mike Scioscia. "I think he might be flying under the radar in the media, but not in the baseball world."