The SF Giants worked a trade earlier this week to acquire former top prospect, Willie Calhoun, from the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Steven Duggar. Calhoun brings a bat with solid upside but he is not adept at all with the glove, so how will he fit in with the Giants organization?
How does former top prospect Willie Calhoun fit in the SF Giants organization?
Calhoun's bat never produced like the Rangers envisioned when he was acquired as the centerpiece of a trade that sent star pitcher Yu Darvish to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2017 trade deadline. In parts of six seasons, the left-handed bat slashed .241/.300/.407 (86 OPS+) with 32 home runs, 103 RBI, and 98 runs.
This included a 15.2 percent strikeout rate against a 7.0 percent walk rate. The good news is that Calhoun did not experience a spike in his strikeout rate against major league pitching and he registered a perfectly acceptable 30.6 percent chase rate.
The chase rate did improve as his career progressed, but swinging less frequently at pitches outside of the strike zone did not produce better results overall as the Rangers had hoped.
That said, Calhoun did excel in some areas below that surface that might give San Francisco some cause for hope. For example, Calhoun has posted an 89.5-MPH exit velocity and a 14.9-degree launch angle throughout his career. However, this comes with only a 3.7 percent barrel rate.
Besides the barrel rate, these are solid, yet unspectacular, statcast numbers that the Giants can work with. Plus, he has tallied a ground ball in only 39.7 percent of batted ball events, so he is not hitting ground balls at too high of a frequency.
On one hand, the Giants have a player with impressive game power that the organization might be able to work with. On the other hand, it feels like a square-peg-in-a-round-hole fit.
The reason for that is Calhoun's defensive limitations. Anyone who has watched the Giants this season knows that the defense at just about every position has struggled.
The addition of Calhoun, albeit not a 40-man addition, does not help in that regard. The 27-year-old came up as an infielder who appeared at first base, second base, and third base. The Dodgers quickly moved him off of that and into left field where he has spent the bulk of his career.
He has never played an inning as a pro in the outfield other than left field. This is usually a sign that he is a DH with a glove.
The numbers do not lie. Calhoun has been worth -14 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and -13 Outs Above Average (OAA) in the majors, which means that he has been far below average even at a position that tends to accept a subpar glove.
The Giants are trying to figure out their own defensive alignment at the moment, but that is difficult because they already have several below-average gloves such as Thairo Estrada, Darin Ruf, and Wilmer Flores.
Calhoun will not help San Francisco with the glove. They are hoping that he can contribute with the bat eventually, but this could be a move designed for next season as the front office looks at creative ways to supplement future rosters.
So, how does Calhoun fit in with the Giants organization? Even if he is able to find more consistency at the plate, it still feels like an imperfect fit given his defensive shortcomings.