Texas Rangers: Willie Calhoun in Better Shape Heading into 2019

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Willie Calhoun (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Willie Calhoun (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

Texas Rangers fans are hoping that improved fitness for young outfielder, Willie Calhoun, will payoff with a breakout season in 2019.

Back in mid-December it was reported that Texas Rangers young outfielder and slugger, Willie Calhoun, was on a diet during the offseason in an attempt to get in better shape before the Spring Training. His weight was a topic of much conversation in 2018 as many fans and analysts alike felt he wasn’t at the proper fitness that he needed to be for the big league level.

Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram reported on December 17th that Calhoun was sticking to his diet and was down “13 or 14 pounds”. Calhoun stated that his goal for Spring Training was to drop 20 pounds. In an interview with 105.3 The Fan with Jared Sandler on Saturday, Calhoun stated that he has met his goal of dropping 20 pounds and hopes to lose a few more before Spring Training officially gets under way.

Long-Term Benefits For Calhoun

Calhoun is sure to be locked into a pretty heated battle for his playing time in 2019. The Texas Rangers lineup is loaded with left-handed hitters meaning Calhoun will have to compete with the likes of Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara, and Joey Gallo for at-bats. The knock against Calhoun in the field is his struggles defensively. He doesn’t have a true positional fit which limits how much he gets into the lineup. Because of that, he spent a lot of 2018 bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors.

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Hopefully, a slimmer and probably quicker Willie Calhoun can help him not just at the plate but also in the field. He got most of his defensive game time in left field last season with Shin-Soo Choo the Rangers everyday DH. He lacks a little range to be a natural left fielder but with some improved speed, you can expect his range to increase next season.

Unfortunately for Calhoun, it’s been difficult to make a wholesale judgment on the 24-year old. For a player touted as a pure hitter, he’s struggled swinging the bat in the big leagues hitting just .222 last season. But can we really judge that number when he only played in 35 games? A lack of consistent game-time has no doubt led to some of his struggles at the plate but it’s hard to see him managing many more chances in 2019.

If you look at Calhoun’s Triple-A stats in 2018 he was very impressive. Calhoun posted a .294 average with a .782 OPS in 108 games played. That provides a lot of promise and hope for a club putting a lot of faith in the young players that make up the future. In 2019, hopefully, Calhoun can get a few more opportunities and showcase the new and improved player that he’s tried to cultivate this offseason.