Willie Calhoun

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Willie Shawn Lamont Calhoun

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Willie Calhoun was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the University of Arizona. He signed quickly and played with three different minor league teams that year, hitting 316 in 73 games to establish himself as a serious prospect. That season included a 15-game stint with the Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League during which he hit a scorching .393. In 2016, he was with the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League, where he hit .254 in 132 games, but with unexpected power: 25 doubles and 27 homers. As a point of comparison, he had not hit a single homer in his final season for the Arizona Wildcats. He spent most of 2017 with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Triple A ball, hitting .298 with 23 homers and 67 RBI in 99 games.

On July 31, 2017, Willie was the key to the deal that sent ace Yu Darvish to the Dodgers at the trading deadline. He played a month for the Round Rock Express before making his major league debut on September 12th. He went 9 for 34 (.265) in 13 games and hit his first major league homer off Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros on September 27th. In 2018, he played 108 games for Round Rock, hitting .294 with 9 homers and 47 RBI. While the home run total was disappointing, he did slug 32 doubles and score 66 runs. He played 35 games for Texas and hit .222 with 2 homers and 11 RBI. There was some speculation that he would clinch a regular spot in the Rangers' outfield in 2019, but instead he opened the season back in AAA, this time with the Nashville Sounds, where he hit .297 in 41 games with 8 homers and 28 RBI. He truly had nothing left to prove at that level and was brought up for good to Arlington in late July, after Joey Gallo was lost for the remainder of the season, starting regularly in left field the rest of the way. In 83 games, he hit .269 with 12 homers and 58 RBI, good for an OPS+ of 110, showing beyond a doubt that he belonged.

It was therefore a big setback when, on March 8, 2020, he had his jaw broken by a pitch during a Cactus League game against his former team, the Dodgers. It was a 95 mph fastball by Julio Urias, a former minor league teammate in Oklahoma City, in the bottom of the 1st that caught him square in the face. He underwent surgery the next day, and the prognosis was not as bad as initially feared, as he did not need to have the jaw wired shut, although he would still be out of action for a significant period. With the COVID-19 pandemic, he ended up missing no time at all. However, Willie struggled in the truncated season. Getting into 29 games, he hit .190 with very little power. During the second half of August and the first part of September, he spent several weeks on the injured list due to a hamstring injury. He was still the Rangers' most-used designated hitter. In 2021, he bounced back partially, batting .250 in 75 games with 6 homers and 25 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 90. But he started 2022 in a deep slump, batting .136 in 18 games and was sent down to AAA in early May. Unhappy, he requested a trade and the Rangers obliged a few weeks later when they sent him to the San Francisco Giants in return for another outfielder, Steven Duggar, on June 23rd.

In January 2023 he signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees, playing a lot of DH when Giancarlo Stanton was injured. He hit .239 in 44 games, with 5 homers and 16 RBIs. He was released on August 1st, making him a free agent. He then signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels in December, with an invitation to Spring Training in 2024.

Not only is Willie a power hitter, but he is also one of the big leagues' best contact hitters. [1]

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2019)

Further Reading[edit]

  • T.R. Sullivan: "Calhoun has fractured jaw after being hit by pitch", mlb.com, March 8, 2020. [2]

Related Sites[edit]