SF Giants: 4 Reasons Angel Pagan Is Far from Their Perfect Leadoff Man
A heady move by G.M. Brian Sabean; a real solution to the Giants' needs at the top of the batting order.
I'm not convinced.
Before declaring me B/R's resident Scrooge, understand: I loved the Andres Torres story—the 2010 chapter, anyway.
I know that acquiring the 30-year-old former New York Met for Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez has generally received favorable reviews.
So, call me cynical. Or cranky. Or ungrateful. But consider four reasons Pagan may be (far) less than the perfect leadoff man for San Francisco.
1) Better Than Torres Isn't Enough
Torres sets a low performance bar for Pagan
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Based on last season, Pagan trumps Torres, but he hardly laps him:
Pagan (2011): .322/.313/0.71
Torres (2011): .312/.296/0.44
The two were comparable in 2010 (Torres produced more runs; neither was especially selective):
Pagan (2010): .340/.341/0.45
Torres (2010): .343/.363/0.44
Compared to standard-bearers in the leadoff role, Pagan isn't at all impressive:
J. Reyes (2011): .384/.386/1.05
J. Rollins (2011): .338/.329/0.98
Insight No. 1: You get what you pay for.
Insight No. 2: In Pagan, the Giants may not have bought the productivity they need.
2) Pagan's 2011 Deterioration, or Aberration?
Could Pagan be on the precipice of a Rowand-like cliff?
Tony Medina/Getty Images
Since 2009, the 29-year-old Pagan has regressed, albeit not spectacularly:
Kind of reminds you of another NL outfielder whose career peaked in 2007, at the same age:
Bet you don't need a hint. Yes, Aaron Rowand.
Is this evidence that Pagan is destined to slide again in 2012? Not at all. A change in scenery, a different lineup...reverting to 2009 or 2010 form is no less plausible.
Let us hope.
3) A Bit Brittle
Pagan has been a bit too brittle for comfort
After a season of "Name That Leadoff Hitter," manager Bruce Bochy has to hope he can pencil Pagan into his lineup on five, even six games out of every seven.
Not so fast. Three of Pagan's last four seasons have been marred by injury.
2008: left shoulder.
2009: right elbow.
To be fair, Pagan missed fewer games in 2011 (39) than Torres (50). And the former Met is guaranteed only one year in San Francisco, not the multi-year security Rowand got in 2008.
So, again, hope for the best. But it'd be wise to prepare for less than that.
Hints of clubhouse rancor plagued Pagan
New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden clearly wasn't unhappy to see Pagan leave New York.
The newest Giant even made Madden's 2011 Thanksgiving list of Top 10 Turkeys. To wit:
...Amid all the overachieving Terry Collins was able to get out of a perpetually banged-up Mets team for more than three quarters of the 2011 season, there was one notable underachiever in Pagan, who went from a potential mainstay to a possible non-tender. In addition to dropping 28 points in his batting average (to .262) and 71 points in his OPS (to .694), Pagan made twice as many errors (10 to five) in the outfield in 24 fewer games. And about those 24 fewer games, Pagan managed to irritate Collins and his former teammates by pouting about his down year and feigning weird reasons (dehydration) for leaving games early or missing them altogether.
Ah. Nice substitute for the eternally-beloved Torres, no?
I could suggest that Sabean and the Giants should have gotten to the bottom of Pagan's supposed attitude issues before making the deal.
But I won't.