Kole Calhoun tore his way through the minor leagues. He hit the ground running in his 2013 debut. Why was there any surprise when he put up a top-ten season for an American League outfielder this year?
There are reasons, or maybe we could say excuses, for Calhoun’s dismissal as a prospect. He never made a top 100 Baseball America list, he never made that organization’s top 10 prospects on the Angels, and there wasn’t much buzz about him coming up. He’s not tall — at five foot ten — and his Baseball America writeup said his tools were “uninspiring.”
And once he started putting up minor league stats, there were reasons to dismiss those as well. Calhoun signed as 22 year old out of college. He was a year older than the average player in rookie ball, so maybe that helped with the .292/.411/.505 slash line at Orem. He was older than average in A-ball, so maybe we shouldn’t gaze too longingly at that .324/.410/.547 line in Inland Empire. And Triple-A? That was Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League. Obviously his .298/.367/.507 there was inflated.
So there were reasons, or maybe excuses. But after Calhoun debuted in 2013 with offense that was 27% better than league average, he faced a new struggle last season. “Obviously they’re going to have a lot more information on me now then they’ve had in the past,” the player admitted in late 2014. “It’s my job to understand what they are trying to do and know what my weaknesses are and not really give them too much of a chance to expose them.”
It was nice that you were as good as your numbers promised, kid, but can you keep it up when they’ve got a book on you?
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.