Angel Pagan’s Slow Start

Angel Pagan was 13 for 76 with a .505 OPS this spring. He’s now 3 for 27 with a .358 OPS to begin the season. We know that spring training stats don’t matter. We know that small sample sizes don’t tell us much about how a player will perform in the future. Yet here we are, seven games into the 2012 season, and everyone seems to have soured on Angel Pagan. Considering the downward trend in his numbers (122 OPS+ in 2009, 108 OPS+ in 2010, 94 OPS+ in 2011), it’s easy to rush to the conclusion that Pagan is nearing the end of his usefulness.

Fortunately, it’s much too early to give up on Pagan. In fact, looking through Pagan’s past, we can see that a slow start is nothing new for him:

  • In 2010, Pagan had a .208/.240/.208 line through his first 25 plate appearances. He hit .294/.344/.434 the rest of the way.
  • In 2011, Pagan had a .179/.304/.256 line through his first 46 plate appearances. He hit .269/.324/.383 the rest of the way.

For his career, Pagan is a .224/.300/.321 hitter in April. That’s by far his worst month. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily say his career month splits have much predictive value (I’m not expecting a .385 OBP this May), they do certainly serve as yet another example that a slow April doesn’t preclude a player from having a good season.

With one strikeout in 29 plate appearances, Pagan is doing an excellent job putting the ball in play. Eventually, those will start falling for hits. He’s hitting .000 on groundballs right now, and .000 on flyballs (all three of his hits have come off line drives) — that definitely won’t continue. And he hasn’t even looked all that bad at the plate — yesterday, for example, he had a couple well-struck balls, and a flyball that reached the warning track.

So, be patient. That’s all I ask. Even with a fluky UZR (-14), Pagan was worth 0.9 fWAR last season. And he’s looked good in the field so far. I expect that he’ll get things going eventually.