Breakout Candidate: Willie Calhoun

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Willie Calhoun was up and down between the majors and Triple-A fairly a number of instances between 2017 and the primary half of 2019. Final June, he received his long-awaited alternative to play on daily basis, rising because the Rangers’ beginning left fielder. He made essentially the most of it on the plate, hitting .269/.323/.524 (110 wRC+) with 21 dwelling runs in 337 plate appearances. But even these strong outcomes appear to belie a powerful, exceedingly uncommon skillset. Only a few gamers can match Calhoun’s mixture of bat-to-ball abilities and energy.
Final yr, Calhoun made contact on 85.4% of his swings; he swung and missed at simply 7.2% of whole pitches he noticed, per Fangraphs. Each these marks are nicely higher than the respective league averages of 76.2% and 11.1%. That locations Calhoun among the many prime 30 or 40 contact hitters within the game- excellent, if not fairly distinctive. Nonetheless, in contrast to lots of the sport’s bat management artists, Calhoun can be able to doing injury. His 89.7 MPH common exit velocity would have positioned him within the 63rd percentile leaguewide had he amassed sufficient plate appearances to qualify, per Statcast.
Combining elite bat-to-ball abilities and above-average energy on contact is more durable than one would possibly anticipate. In 2019, solely D.J. LeMahieu, Nick Markakis, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Turner had each a decrease swinging strike price and better common exit velocity than did Calhoun (minimal 300 plate appearances). That’s an attention-grabbing assortment of names. It’s not a assure that Calhoun’s about to emerge as one of many sport’s finest hitters; Markakis, as an example, was merely common final yr. But it surely does at the very least affirm Calhoun has a pair of key traits in widespread with lots of the sport’s finest bats.
Possibly it isn’t stunning Calhoun appears to have large offensive upside. He raked all through his minor-league profession, and scouts have lengthy lauded his potential on the plate. There’s a purpose Calhoun, whereas a prospect, headlined Texas’ return package deal for prime Yu Darvish regardless of issues about his protection (which have additionally finally confirmed true). He’s a LF/DH at this level, so he’ll must rake to warrant continued taking part in time.
To unlock the subsequent gear offensively, the 25-year-old might stand to be a bit extra selective. It appears affordable to challenge that coming. In spite of everything, he’s solely been an on a regular basis massive leaguer for half a season. He gained’t ever be confused for Joey Votto, however given his different attributes, he needn’t be. Even a small development in pitch choice might go a good distance.
Calhoun ought to get each alternative to cement himself as a middle-of-the-order pressure in Texas. Whereas a scary hit-by-pitch fractured his jaw earlier this month, the latest indication is that he’s recovering nicely.

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