TEMPE, Ariz. -- Six players received more than 25 at-bats out of the leadoff role for the Los Angeles Angels last season, including J.B. Shuck, Erick Aybar and the splendid Mike Trout. Then there was Kole Calhoun, a lefty-swinging outfielder who hit for power, stole bases and most importantly got on base throughout the minors; he earned a call-up to the big leagues and hit .407 with four home runs in eight games and 27 at-bats in the leadoff role. Sure, it's not much of a sample size, but the Angels seem intrigued enough to keep Calhoun in the role this season, and Trout recommends him there.
"He has a short, compact swing, plays good defense, and he competes," Trout told me before his spring training game Sunday, which resulted in a 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics. "I played with him through the minor leagues and know what he's capable of doing. Right now I think he's leading off. He works hard and is ready to go."
Calhoun did not play Sunday, ceding leadoff duties to Aybar. However, the Angels likely would prefer a better on-base percentage long-term in the role; Aybar posted a ghastly .287 OBP over 195 at-bats leading off last year, and his career mark of .317 hitting first doesn't excite either.