2010 Analysis: Angel Pagan

If not for R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan would be the Mets’ runaway team MVP.

Miraculously, Gary Matthews Jr. and not Angel Pagan was the 2010 Opening Day centerfielder. Think about that for a moment. Now that you’ve thought about it, was it any surprise that the previous management regime is history?

After looking like a bonafide starting MLB centerfielder through 88 games in 2009, there was some question as to whether Pagan was the real deal. Well, he kept up the pace and then some in 2010, leading the team in hits (168), batting average (.290), and stolen bases (37), while finishing second or third in nearly every other offensive category. Additionally, he played stellar if unspectacular defense in centerfield until Carlos Beltran returned, then played stellar and occasionally spectacular defense in right field.

Without Pagan, the Mets might have struggled to stay ahead of the Nationals and out of the NL East basement.

2011 Projection

It would seem that Pagan has proven he can be a solid, occasionally exciting, MLB centerfielder. However, Carlos Beltran is likely to return to centerfield if he is not traded during the winter. If indeed Beltran is still a Met come April, and does not move from center, it is assumed that Pagan will be penciled in as the starter in one of the corners. Alternatively, Sandy Alderson could make the very shrewd move of trading Pagan while his stock is high, gambling that the soon-to-be 30-year-old (in July 2011) has peaked. Considering that much of Pagan’s game is reliant on his wheels, and he has had an injury-plagued career, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to trade him now for the right package of young talent. Personally, I hope he sticks around, as his game is tailored to Citi Field and I thoroughly enjoy watching him play.

Read the 2009 evaluation of Angel Pagan

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. CatchDog November 30, 2010 at 10:36 am
    One of my first posts on Mets Today was blogging about Angel in the spring of 2008. Down in Lucie, he seemed like a man among boys. My opinion was that he was going to surprise a lot of people. And had Angel not gone shoulder first into the stands out in LA later that year, he would have have a solid season.

    Pagan is a late bloomer, kind of a Beltran Lite. He’s also a hard worker and good guy. Love to see him have a terrific season along with Tron and Bay in the outfield next year.

    • Joe Janish November 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm
      CD, you called it!

      Agreed, looking forward to Angel again proving everyone wrong — and hoping it will happen in a Mets uniform.

  2. Joe A. November 30, 2010 at 11:57 am
    I’m on the fence about trading Pagan, but I think it makes sense to keep him. There is definitely some merit to the idea of trading him while his value is high.

    On the other hand, he is our insurance policy for Beltran in CF and for Reyes as the leadoff hitter. Plus, he is under team control for 2012 which gives us an option in CF when Beltran is gone. Maybe we’ll find another CF, but if we have Angel around we won’t be at the mercy of the FA market next year.

    • Joe Janish November 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm
      The issue of team control is what makes Pagan particularly valuable right now to other clubs. The question is whether we believe that Pagan will continue to be the player he is in 2012 / 2013 — after he’s turned 30. For all we know he could be even better; perhaps he’ll develop more power for example. My concern however is the toll his body has taken thus far and how much more abuse it will take over the next two years, as he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played — all-out. If his legs fail him, and he doesn’t hit more than 15 HRs, his value decreases significantly — note how much Luis Castillo’s overall game has suffered since his leg problems began.

      Not saying Pagan will turn into Castillo; only trying to take a peek into the crystal ball to get an idea of where Pagan’s game might be when the Mets get serious again.

      • Joe A. November 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm
        I’d worry about a decline if we were talking about giving him a long term deal. But I’m not too worried about going year-to-year with him in 2011 and 2012. No question 2010 could have been his peak, but even if he falls apart and we end up getting nothing for him down the road, I’m ok with that. It would be too hard to replace what he gives us right now and we would lose all leverage in shopping for a CF to replace Beltran.

        Of course it depends what we can get for him. If we are talking about a premium prospect I probably do it now. But for what I think a realistic return would be, I don’t think its worth it.

        • Joe Janish November 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm
          It’s not worrying about a decline so much as hedging a bet – Moneyball style. It’s looking at a player whose value could currently be at its peak, with the understanding that you’re building a team for 2013 and beyond.

          Of course you don’t actively shop Pagan — but you listen and consider if the right package comes in your lap. It’s not unlike Billy Beane’s seemingly annual trade of a pitcher at what he presumes is peak value (Haren, Mulder, Hudson).

          Most likely, neither Beltran nor Pagan gets dealt until after Opening Day anyway. I’m guessing Sandy Alderson will be a wheeler and dealer come July.