Kole Calhoun burst onto the scene in 2013 and will be my 2014 sleeper pick . He was called up mid-season to help a banged up Angels outfield. He took advantage of the opportunity and hit the ball decently down the stretch. For 2014, the key to evaluating him, without a MLB track record, is to trust the projections and value him accordingly. He will be ranked comparably with other decent fantasy options, but he should be taken at a discount.
Confession, I like Calhoun to be one of the top fantasy sleepers in 2014. The 26-year-old lefty has not been on any top 100 prospect ranking lists as he has made his way through the minors. Before the 2013 season, our own Marc Hulet had him as the 12th top prospect in the Angels shallow farm system. Stepping through some projections, he looks like Calhoun deserves top 25 OF consideration.
Starting with plate appearances, there is some good, some more good and some unknown surrounding Calhoun. one good. Peter Bourjos has been traded to the Cardinals and Calhoun looks to take over the Angels full time left-field job with Trout moving to center. Good two. It shouldn’t be a platoon position since he is able to hit left and right-handed pitchers equally (.356 wOBA vs LHP, .329 wOBA vs RHP). The unknown will be where he bats in the lineup. He could hit anywhere from leadoff (unlikely) to 8th. Right now, I don’t want to try to guess where he will hit, but with each position he moves down in the order, he will lose 18 plate apprearances. The difference between batting leadoff and 8th would be 126 PA.
People may not consider him to be a top of the lineup guy will several vets ahead of him. The dilemma for the Angels and his owners is he projects to be the 3rd best hitter on the team ahead of Josh Hamilton. His projected .344 wOBA is within one point of other outfielders like Alex Gordon, Adam Lind, and Hunter Pence. Another way to look at him is to project out his 2013 stats to 550 PA. He would have hit 20 HRs, 72 Runs, 79 RBI, 5 SB and .282 AVG. While projecting out a small sample is far from the perfect method to determine talent, it is another available option. Here are four outfield comparables from the 2013 season and their end of season ranks and values
Owners are not going to take a chance on Calhoun before any of the other players. I really don’t expect them to and I won’t either. Instead, I will look at his value in early mock drafts and try to pick him up before others might. He is definitely a player to keep tabs on as it gets closer to draft day as a low risk, high reward candidate.
Kole Calhoun will not be household name going into the 2014, but he may be by the end of the season. Look for him produce similar results as the 15th to 25th ranked outfielders, but get him for much lower prices.
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