ANAHEIM -- Only four outfielders listed at 5-foot-10 or shorter had won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award since 2000, and now Kole Calhoun is the fifth. The others -- Michael Bourn, Nate McLouth, Andrew McCutchen and Shane Victorino -- were center fielders. Calhoun is the Angels' right fielder, not to mention their dynamic leadoff hitter and one of their main sources of power.
In many ways, Calhoun is redefining his position.
"The size, to Kole, he doesn't even think twice about that," said Angels bench coach Dino Ebel, who works with the outfielders. "He just wants to be the best, and I'm so happy for him to win that award. He truly deserves it."
Calhoun is the first Angels player to win a Gold Glove Award since shortstop Erick Aybar in 2011 and the first outfielder since Torii Hunter won his ninth in a row in 2009. Calhoun possesses one of the game's premier arms, one that helped him notch 11 outfield assists, third-most among AL right fielders.
This year, though, Ebel saw Calhoun make strides with his range.
He got comfortable playing shallow, charged base hits more aggressively and led AL right fielders in basically every metric. Calhoun finished with a 13.8 Ultimate Zone Rating and six Defensive Runs Saved. His Defensive Index -- an all-encompassing stat that was developed by the Society for American Baseball Research and accounts for about 25 percent of the voting -- was 10.5. No other AL right fielder was even close.
"This shows that hard work pays off," Ebel said of Calhoun, who committed just four errors in 357 chances. "Here's a guy that wasn't drafted high, and he's always out to prove that he can play at this level for a long time. He works on defense every day in batting practice, and he wants to be the best. That drive and that desire every day to make plays and help this team win -- that's what Kole Calhoun is all about."
Trout's throwing arm, his lone unremarkable tool, markedly improved by frequently long-tossing with Calhoun this season.
Trout recorded a career-high seven outfield assists while ranking fourth among AL center fielders in Defensive Index (6.0) and fifth in Defensive Runs Saved (five). Trout also turned in arguably the best catch of the season, leaping well over the fence to rob Jesus Montero of a home run on Sept. 26.
But Kiermaier had a special year.
His Defensive Index was a whopping 29.2, nearly three times higher than runner-up Kevin Pillar. His Ultimate Zone Rating of 30.0 was nearly twice as much as any other player at any other position.
Trout has been a Gold Glove finalist twice now. But with the likes of Kiermaier, Pillar, Lorenzo Cain and Adam Jones in the AL, it's getting increasingly difficult for him to win the award, especially now that only one center fielder can win it in each league.
"He should be a Gold Glover, and I know one day he will be," Ebel said of Trout. "Kiermaier had a great year out there in center field, and Pillar in Toronto. But it's not going to be long before that Gold Glove is with Mike Trout."