Return of a healthy Angel Pagan has become forgotten storyline

While Mets’ fans bemoan lingering injuries to David Wright and Ike Davis, as well as Jason Bay’s free fall, lost in their angst is the fact that the Mets are actually playing some good baseball of late.

The Mets are now 8-4 in their last 12 games and are just one game back of being .500 once again. They are also now just 4.5 games back in the wild card standings. (And still a respectable 6.5 games back of the Phillies)

While the ‘Buffalo Soldiers,’ i.e. Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee etc. can rightly lay claim to some of the success the Mets are currently having, the return of Angel Pagan has gone rather unnoticed and under-appreciated.

Since his return on May 27, Pagan has gone 20-58 with five extra-base hits, seven RBI’s, nine runs and five stolen bases. Pagan has shown great burst in the field as well. Most of all, Pagan has brought back a stabilizing presence to the clubhouse.

With Wright and Davis out, it is up to Pagan-as well as Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes-to lead these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tots through the treacherous waters known as Major League Baseball.

The thing that separates Pagan above all other players (looking at you Jason Bay) is his confidence.

There is a calm resolve inside Pagan that is unmatched by few Mets’ players. Pagan is a good leader and is never one to step on toes.

One such instance was the way Pagan and Carlos Beltran had to decide who should play Center Field for the club in Spring Training. Pagan and Beltran amicably came to the conclusion that it was in the best interest of the Mets that Pagan man center field. There was no bickering or any contempt between the two.

Besides his leadership qualities, Pagan also helps the Mets out with his versatility. Pagan has batted in several spots in the order. To date, Pagan has batted lead-off, second, fourth, fifth and sixth. With his speed and moderate amount of pop, Pagan can be used in various spots in the lineup.

Currently, Pagan is at the five-hole and he should remain there while Bay works out his seemingly never-ending issues. Whenever the Mets get Wright and Davis back, then a move up to the two-hole would be a natural spot for Pagan.

While his season numbers don’t tell the story (.246/.310/.349 1 HR, 13 RBI’s, 16 runs), do remember that Pagan was battling an oblique injury for most of April, and since his return he has raised his batting average 87 points.

With each passing day, we are steadily seeing the 2010 breakout version of Pagan. It’s not a moment too soon, and it’s no coincidence that the Mets are 8-6 with Pagan back in the lineup.

So, while Turner, Gee, and Tejada (not to mention Jason Pride-who did an admirable job filling in for Pagan) should get a tremendous amount of applause, don’t forget to pat Pagan on the back too. Without Pagan’s experience, versatility and presence the Mets could be in an even bigger hole than they already are.

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