Kole Calhoun, Texas Rangers Reportedly Agree to Contract

Kole Calhoun

Kole Calhoun Will Reportedly Sign with Texas Rangers

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has reported that the free agent outfielder Kole Calhoun has agreed to a deal with the Texas Rangers. Details of the alleged contract have yet to surface.

Calhoun, 34, spent the last two seasons with his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. The veteran spent the previous eight with the Los Angeles Angels. With the Angels, he was a mainstay in right field, continuing to do so with the Diamondbacks in 2020. However, in 2021, he missed 111 games with a torn right meniscus and two left hamstring injuries. The meniscus tear, which occurred in spring training, required surgery, as did his first hamstring injury. This would be disappointing to any major league player, but it took on an additional layer with Calhoun, who played high school and college baseball in the Valley of the Sun with Buckeye High School and Arizona State University.

What the Rangers Should Expect

Kole Calhoun is a feast-or-famine slugger. When he hits the ball, he hits it hard. However, shifts are extremely effective against him, so he often hits a lot of “atom balls.” Consequently, his batting average is lower than usual in comparison to his on-base percentage and slugging percentage. In 2019 with the Angels, he slashed .232/.325/.467 (128-for-552) with 29 doubles, 33 home runs, 70 walks, and 162 strikeouts. With the Diamondbacks in 2020, he slashed .226/.338/.526 (43-for-190) with nine doubles, 16 home runs, 28 walks, and 50 strikeouts.

Looking deeper, 2019 saw a 5.2% home run rate from Calhoun, 1.5 percentage points higher than the American League average of 3.7%. That rate increased in 2020, when Calhoun hit home runs at a rate of 7.0% — double the National League average of 3.5% and considerably higher than the Diamondbacks team rate of 2.6%. His strikeout rates — 25.6% in 2019 and 21.9% in 2020 — was higher than the AL average in 2019 (23.0%) but lower than the NL average in 2020 (23.1%). His walk rates were higher than his league averages in both seasons: 11.1% in 2019 and 12.3% in 2020, compared to an AL average of 8.5% in 2019 and an NL average of 9.3% in 2020.

Batting-wise, where Calhoun excels is the percentage of his hits that go for extra bases. Of his 128 hits in 2019, 49% went for extra bases. In 2020, 58% of his 43 hits went for extra bases. These rates were significantly higher than his respective league averages of 39% and 37%. Unfortunately for Calhoun, he did not have as much help behind him as his teams would have liked. Consequently, his run scored percentage saw no notable difference from the league average in either season.

Intangibles from Kole Calhoun

Kole Calhoun brings other assets to the table, some that can’t be measured. He won a Gold Glove in 2015, a year that saw him post 14 Total Zone Runs Above Average (Rtot) and six Defensive Runs Saved (Rdrs). His ratings in both categories have yet to reach that level since. However, he tries to make up for it with his hustle. One example came in the opening series of 2020, when the Diamondbacks were playing in San Diego’s Petco Park. He nearly gave the Diamondbacks coaching staff a heart attack when diving headfirst for a ball near the fence in foul ground, close to the same spot where Rays right fielder Manuel Margot made a somersaulting catch in Game Two of the 2020 ALCS.

Calhoun is also a fun-loving guy with a tremendous sense of humor. His teammates in both Anaheim and Arizona have remarked about how loose he keeps the team with his jokes and pranks. He was one of the few people in Arizona who could make the typically stoic Madison Bumgarner laugh on a regular basis. On August 2, 2021 — the day after Bumgarner turned 32 — Calhoun arranged for the video board at Chase Field to wish Bumgarner a happy belated birthday. The jumbotron focused on Bumgarner in the dugout, framing the video shot with birthday wishes. Bumgarner typically does not like that type of attention, but Calhoun got away with it. He drew a sly “you got me” smile from Bumgarner as the PA announcer read the birthday wishes aloud.

Looking Ahead

It is difficult to know how many productive years Calhoun has left after the injuries he suffered in 2021. What works in his favor is that these were the only major injuries of his entire career. However, there is uncertainty with the 34-year-old, and that is the main reason why the Diamondbacks declined his $9 million team option. Until the details of the contract are known, it will be difficult to evaluate this move from a financial perspective. However, with the intangibles he brings, including his ability to mentor younger players, the Rangers may have made a high-impact yet cost-effective move in their rebuild.

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it comes available.

Main Photo:

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Players mentioned:

Kole CalhounManuel Margot, Madison Bumgarner