It is late August, which is usually the most trying time for a rookie. There are a whole set of unique challenges to face.
Opposed to the minor leagues, where the regular season finishes around Labor Day, there is still another month to go. The finish line isn’t quite in sight, which can wear a guy down mentally. Opponents have, by now, gotten detailed scouting reports and started to change approaches on their attack. Weaknesses are uncovered, flaws exposed.
This is the best way to describe Willie Calhoun’s August: Ascendant.
On Friday, playing the 100th major league game of his career, Calhoun the cleanup hitter bashed a three-run, first-inning home run. Unfortunately, for the Rangers, it amounted to all of their offense, too, in an 8-3 loss to Chicago.
Back to Calhoun. It was his seventh homer of the month. For August, he is hitting .273/.317/.584/.901. He is not being exposed, but rather trending upwards.
“He’s been tremendous,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s sustained the at-bat quality; it seems like it’s actually getting better. He’s getting pitched differently because he’s seen as a threat. And he remains a threat. I have been more impressed than I expected to be.”
Take Calhoun’s home run on Friday as an example. Calhoun got ahead of White Sox starter Dylan Cease 2-0, then took a high fastball for a strike. When Cease tried to double up on the pitch and the location, Calhoun jumped on the pitch and pulled the ball into the right field seats. It was a veteran at-bat in a high-leverage situation.