The Mets have a lot of question marks in their lineup for 2011. Previous injuries leave it up for debate what Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and David Wright will contribute. But the Mets also do not know what to expect from Angel Pagan, who played in 151 games last year and finished second on the club with 633 PA.

Ordinarily, a player coming off a healthy age 28 season would be one of the easiest players to project. But Pagan’s late start to his major league career, combined with a season where he batted in every spot in the lineup and played all three outfield positions – both with varying degrees of success – makes Pagan a challenging player to forecast for 2011.

Overall, Pagan posted a .290/.340/.425 line last year, marks not too far off his previous career numbers of .281/.331/.443 in 829 PA prior to 2010. But for a good part of the year, Pagan’s numbers were superior to his overall totals. So, was his second-half decline nothing more than regression or was something else going on here?

At the All-Star break, Pagan had a .315/.372/.473 line in 330 PA. He did even better than that the final 16 games of July, when he posted a .932 OPS in 69 PA. But August and September were the worst months of the season for Pagan, who despite the hot start finished the second half of the season with a .263/.304/.374 line in 303 PA.

So what changed?

In the first half of the season, Pagan played exclusively in center field. After the All-Star break, Beltran returned so Pagan bounced around to all three outfield positions depending on who was healthy or active that day. In August alone, he played LF 21 times, CF 5 times and RF 6 times, including five games where he played multiple positions in the outfield.

Here are Pagan’s offensive stats for the year, broken down by position played:

LF – .283/.323/.446 in 102 PA
CF – .307/.359/.443 in 395 PA
RF – .250/.302/.367 in 130 PA

With Bay set to return to left field in 2011, Pagan is likely to play either center or right, depending upon how the club feels Beltran is defensively. So, the question for the Mets in 2011 becomes: Did Pagan suffer in the second half of last year because he moved around or is his production in right field not from a big enough sample to merit any weight?

Unfortunately, we cannot put much emphasis on career numbers for Pagan, who played his first full season in the majors last year. Overall, he has just 254 PA while playing RF and has a .749 OPS. But it is at least interesting to note that his OPS in CF is nearly 50 points higher at .798 over 787 PA.

Regardless of where Pagan plays in 2011, one of the challenges faced by new hitting coach Dave Hudgens will be to restore Pagan’s walk rate. Here are his BB% broken down by month last year, along with his OPS:

April – 9.6%, .694
May – 8.5%, .883
June – 8.1%, .809
July – 9.7%, .996
August – 3.4%, .571
September – 3.4%, .641

It’s no coincidence that Pagan’s production went in the toilet in the final two months of the season once his walk rate dropped nearly 290 percent from its July level.

FanGraphs has the Bill James projection along with the guesses of 39 fans for Pagan’s numbers in 2011. James, whose system normally seems optimistic, expects Pagan to essentially match his 2010 numbers, as he projects a .289/.340/.424 line. The fans have nearly identical AVG and OBP numbers, but expect his SLG to be even worse at .418 for the season.

I think the exact opposite, as I expect Pagan’s power to be improved over a season ago. I expect Pagan to challenge his first half SLG and be in the .460 range by the end of the season.

How about defensively? Here’s how Pagan did last year in each of the OF positions, although the sample-size issue here is even greater than it is offensively:

LF: DRS +3, UZR/150 8.0
CF: DRS +7, UZR/150 11.8
RF: DRS +4, UZR/150 33.3

Pagan will be an asset defensively regardless of where he plays. While he is essentially average with the glove, both his range and his arm are outstanding.

We probably do not have enough information to say one way or the other if Pagan is affected by playing right field instead of center. But given the small evidence we do have, combined with how Beltran looked in center field upon his return last year, my strong preference would be to have Pagan in center and Beltran in right. The fact that Beltran may be in his last season with the Mets only reinforces that idea.

5 comments on “What will Mets get from Angel Pagan?

  • Mike Koehler

    I have a feeling that his walk numbers will rebound if his overall offensive production recovers. After all, if his average and OBP dropped, why couldn’t his walks too.

    I’d be curious to see if he takes changes in the field to the plate with him, or if it was simply a matter of fatigue, injury or something else.

    • Mike C.

      The thought that a players fielding position affects his batting is ridiculous. I am not even going to give evidence to support this. ehem…A-ROD.

      • metsdw5

        it does when the movement of your position is affecting you mentally. Angel has made itknown that he hates playing right field, so last year right field was most likely messing with his head, which caused his numbers to drop. Angel is a center fielder and only wants to play center field.

        • Mike Caruso

          I never heard Pagan say he hates playing anything but Centerfield.

  • Mike C.

    Angel Pagan is a candidate for ‘Breakout Player of the Year’ in the “This Year in Baseball” awards, announced tonight at 8pm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 100 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here