It’s been a month or so since the Giants acquired Angel Pagan. At the time, I wasn’t excited or anything…I guess I had become an Andres Torres apologist, and I was a bit worried about what the trade meant for Brandon Belt; but I liked the deal nonetheless. The idea of Melky Cabrera as a starting centerfielder was never all that appealing, so it was nice to see the Giants go out and get a more suitable option. As time has passed in what’s been an ultimately underwhelming offseason, I’m really starting to like this trade.
Giants centerfielders collectively hit .228/.299/.347 in 2011. That ugly slash line speaks for itself, I’d say. In strict terms of hitting, centerfield was the Giants’ second-biggest weakness last year (shortstop, of course, was the worst). That .646 OPS was good — or rather bad — for an sOPS+ of 76, meaning they were quite a bit worse than the average centerfielder.
Now here’s where Angel Pagan comes into the picture.
At first glance, Pagan is coming off a pretty disappointing season. But if you take UZR out of the equation, here’s what Pagan’s done over the last three seasons:
2009: .306/.350/.487, 120 wRC+, 376 PA, 2.2 WAR
2010: .290/.340/.425, 113 wRC+, 633 PA, 4.0 WAR
2011: .262/.322/.372, 99 wRC+, 532 PA, 2.3 WAR
That’s consistently above-average production, and it’s even better when you consider that Pagan only played half a season in 2009. The steady drop in Pagan’s offensive numbers might be cause for concern, but he actually improved his walk rate and cut down on strikeouts from the previous season, and the drop in his power numbers wasn’t all that large (.024 dip in ISO). I’m extremely confident in his ability to produce at an above-average rate in 2012, and that’s more than I can say for most of the other position players on the Giant’s 25-man roster.
Even if you hate what the Giants have done this winter, even if you’re getting ready to chain yourself to the Willie Mays statue in an act of anti-Rainy Day Fund protest, even if you shudder every time you hear “LOOGY”…Pagan’s sort of a silver lining. He’ll bring this team one step closer to a league-average offense in 2012, and I’ll take it.