Wednesday, December 25, 2013

By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer -  

Happy Holidays Everyone! 

To spread some Holiday cheer I’d like to point out the gift still sitting in your stocking that you may have overlooked. Below is a blind player comparison based on each individual player’s final full AAA season before they broke into the big leagues1, adjusted to 550 plate appearances (PA’s): 

1 Player D had 21 PA’s in the Majors in the year previous to this but I ignored that for this article. 

Looking at the table you have to say that Players A, C, and D appear to be the most attractive. Player A has youth, stolen base ability, and solid BB% and K% rates. Player B has an excellent K% and decent BB% rate but that’s about it. Player C has a pretty good all-around package. Player D also has a pretty good skill set with excellent stolen base totals. 

There is some age disparity so what would happen if we looked at all four players age 25 seasons? What would change if anything? Below is the same four player’s age 25 seasons whether they were in the Minor or Major Leagues. Minor League stats have been adjusted to 550 PA’s: 

Well Player B sure does look a lot sexier now! Player A looks good too! Player C, of course, stayed the same while Player D clearly didn’t have a top-notch season in AAA that year (and in fact he played inconsistently across Rookie, AAA, and in the Majors that year). 

But again this doesn’t really paint a true story of who these players are and what they have accomplished in the Major Leagues. Below are the same four players with their career MLB stats: 

Other than Player C, who hasn’t even played a full season in the Majors yet, the rest of these players are MLB stars and have racked up pretty impressive career numbers to date. 

So who are these masked men? 

Player A is Andrew McCutchen. Player B is Dustin Pedroia. Player D is Shin-Soo Choo. Finally Player C is Kole Calhoun. 

Now I’ve done this blind player comparison previously on between Calhoun and Choo, but with Shin-Soo’s recent mega-contract I thought it would be good to remind the Angels community about the potential that Kole has and what his ceiling might be. Below is a side by side comparison of their Minor League numbers: 

A comp of Shin-Soo Choo is not unrealistic in Kole’s case. A career Minor League BB% rate of 11.9% is on-par with Choo’s Minor League BB% rate of 11.4%. 

In fact the only real difference between the two players is that Choo steals more bases while Calhoun has significantly more pop in his bat. Also if you consider the fact that Shin-Soo has twice as many plate appearances you could make the case that Kole could turn out to have a slightly higher ceiling if all things broke right for him. 

The positive to take away from this little exercise are that Kole’s excellent plate discipline is very likely going to transfer into his MLB career. It could even get better which would be a huge plus for the Angels who really need a good lead-off hitter in front of Trout and Pujols. 

Ideally I don’t see Calhoun in that role forever mainly because he has such solid pop in his bat that he would probably be better suited batting 2nd in the batting order. 

Moving forward I’d really like to see the Angels acquire a high on-base percentage hitter who can lead-off with Calhoun, Trout, and Pujols hitting behind him. That would be a serious high-caliber top of the lineup in my humble opinion (and frankly Calhoun, Trout, Pujols is pretty good)! 

So to recap: 

1. Kole’s ceiling is a potential star player in the same vein as Shin-Soo Choo

2. Calhoun has a high OBP and plate discipline should translate well into the Major Leagues 

3. Kole has some significant power in his bat which can and should lead to high teens/low twenties home run totals and solid doubles production 

4. Calhoun should maintain an approximate 11%-12% BB% rate along with a sub-20% K% rate in the Majors 

5. Kole will make the league minimum salary for the next 3 years and is under team control through the 2019 season (total salary across those 6 years of control is expected to be about $35MM) 

Again have a Happy Holiday Season and I sincerely hope you all pull out the Kole Santa left in your stockings! 

Love to hear what you think!

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