In the words of the legendary 1990s grunge band, Soundgarden’s lead singer Chris Cornell, the Mets have “fell on black days.”
This season has been one filled with injuries, heart break, and disappointment. There haven’t been many bright spots as we head into the final full month of the regular season. Even the younger, unproven players, who were called up, such as Jon Niese and Fernando Nieve, have been disabled by injuries that will sideline them for the rest of the season.
Other players, whom the Mets thought would be mainstays on their roster, have yet to pan out, such as Daniel Murphy, who had to change positions mid-year due to horrendous defense in the outfield.
However, in my eyes, one player has really stood out and embraced his role as a starter quite well. That player is Angel Pagan.
Pagan, who spent many years in the Mets farm system before having a cup of coffee with the Cubs, was not projected to have a role with the team beyond a possible fifth outfielder spot. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even begin the season at the Major League level.
However, after the rash of injuries that brought down star center fielder, Carlos Beltran, Pagan got his big break.
As my colleague here at Mets Merized Online, Ed Leyro pointed out back at the end of July, Pagan had just begun his fine season. One that I think few people would have expected to continue. Well, here we are in September and Pagan is still looking strong.
Since July 10, Pagan has appeared in 44 games. Over the course of the season, he has amassed 221 at-bats, which is by far more than he has had in any of the prior three seasons in his career.
He has also surpassed his previous career totals in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs. The most significant increase in these categories falls in the triples category.
Prior to this season, Pagan hit a total of six triples throughout his entire Major League career. On Sept. 1, with still over a month of baseball to be played, Pagan already has seven triples in this season alone.
It should be noted that Pagan did not start off as well as he would have liked. He suffered some injury setbacks, and as I had reported back in May, spent some time in police custody for not paying numerous traffic violations. Like many of his teammates, he also spent some time on the disabled list.
Those struggles make his accomplishments this season even more impressive.
I would, however, like to issue a disclaimer of sorts on Angel Pagan. While he has certainly exceeded expectations this year, there is no reason to believe that he is capable of being an everyday outfielder in the 2010 Mets lineup.
In his almost four year career, Pagan has only had 630 at-bats. That may sound like a lot, but consider this last season, where Mets shortstop Jose Reyes had 638 at-bats. What troubles me more so is that in every season that Pagan has played at the Major League level (including this one), he has spent at least fifteen days on the disabled list.
While I look forward to seeing him next season, his role within the team should be as a solid bench player, who plays the outfield every once and a while, and not someone who is an everyday player.