Angel Pagan, Not Aubrey Huff

Angel Pagan just signed with the San Francisco Giants. $40 million for four years might seem like a slight overpay in terms of years, but this is obviously a team trying to win now, and they did just make a little extra coin that they can spend in order to stay competitive.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Similar justifications were probably made when Aubrey Huff helped power the Giants to their first World Series title and was subsequently signed to an ill-fated deal. This is Angel Pagan, though. Not Aubrey Huff.

In the year before the year the Giants won their first title, Huff was worse than replacement. He then put up six wins on the way to a title, and was rewarded with a contract. In the year before the year the Giants won their second title, Pagan was just a smidge above replacement. He then put up five wins on the way to a title, and was rewarded with a contract.

The similarities end there.

Pagan turns 32 next season, Huff was 34 in 2011. Pagan plays a premium up-the-middle defensive position basically to a scratch level, Huff finished his career worse than scratch with the glove at first base. Most importantly, there were key indicators that suggested that Huff’s 2010 was out of line with his career work, and those indicators are mostly absent when it comes to Pagan. Here are some of Pagan’s key numbers for last season, compared to his career:

AVG OBP SLG BB% K% Speed wRC+ UZR/150
2012 0.288 0.338 0.440 7.3% 14.7% 7.8 113 -0.1
Career 0.277 0.333 0.424 7.6% 14.9% 7.4 104 -0.8

Pretty close, right? Huff, in 2010, showed a walk rate that hit double digits for the first time in his career, at age 33. His speed score was above average for the only time in his career. And though the decline may not have been obvious through all the oscillation, if you looked at his career as a whole and ignored the seasons, he was obviously on his way down.

Pagan is going to decline through his contract. He’s 31 now, it happens. And it’s not like there aren’t any numbers that were slightly outside of his norm last season — his isolated slugging percentage in 2012 was higher than it had been in a full season. He’s got faults, too. His routes in center field leave him short of scratch defensively in center field, and sometimes he makes mistakes on the basepaths. He’s still a valuable defender — 2011 looks like the outlier when it comes to defensive metrics — and he still adds value while running the bases.

The contract is so reasonable that he’d have to fall off in Huff-ian fashion not to make it a good one. $40 million over four years is paying him like he’s basically a two and a half win player (assuming $5.5 million per win and inflation). As long as he hits a few doubles, steals some bases, and plays scratch-ish defense in center field, Pagan should be able to manage that easily. This is all assuming his knees look better at the end of this contract than Huff’s did. Those two years make all the difference in that respect.



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Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 5 months ago

Great signing for the Giants. The Giants excellent second half wasn’t due solely to Buster and Scutero, it seemed Pagan played a big role too.

Samlet
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

The contract is a bit front-loaded:

<blockquote cite="Andrew Baggarly ?@CSNBaggs

Pagan breakdown: $5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of 7, 9, 9 and 10 million."

As stated, the Giants are clearly in win-now mode. So this looks like a modest win for them, especially in view of their dire need for at least one FA outfielder.

Samlet
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

html fail, but you get the idea…

Nik
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Nik
3 years 5 months ago

Rowand was younger and better when he signed with the Giants. They better hope Pagan isnt Rowand 2.0

Brian
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Brian
3 years 5 months ago

Rowand’s numbers were also inflated by playing in Philly while the Giants got to sample Pagan’s effectiveness in AT&T. Also, Pagan is signed at $20 less than Rowand was, which is not an insignificant amount of change.

Number of years is a little scary, but everyone signing a decent free agent centerfielder was going to have to overpay in money or years. All things considered, the Giants came out great on this.

nik
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nik
3 years 5 months ago

WAR accounts for park factors.

Larry Yocum
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Larry Yocum
3 years 5 months ago

Also totally different players.

Rowand also wasn’t the same player in SF that he had been earlier in his career. His K% was 17% in Chicago and Philly and averaged roughly 22% with San Francisco. That is a HUGE spike in K%. The fact he could no longer hit the slider dramatically killed his value. I hate to level accusations without proof, but Rowand’s numbers and the “era” suggest that he may have been enhanced earlier in his career and fell off immediately when testing started. Not only did his K-rate increase, but pretty much every facet of his game declined immediately, even if you account for the stadium differences. If SF had gotten the Rowand that played in Chicago and Philly, the contract wouldn’t have looked so bad.

Pagan is a high contact guy and hits linedrives, which is much better for that ballpark. He is a better overall athlete than Rowand and as a result could and should age better. Rowand was a flyball hitter that K’d way too much.

This was a solid signing. The Rowand deal was a gross overpay for a rebuilding franchise desperate to lure FA’s and trying to change the culture there after the funeral procession that was the end of Barry Bonds’ career.

ZenMadman
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3 years 5 months ago

Or maybe Rowand just ran face first into too many walls. I don’t know if he got concussions when that happened, but guys who smash their head into things (or get beaned) often become substantially worse hitters.

ralph
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ralph
3 years 5 months ago

Random thought on Pagan vs Upton from Dave’s chat, where he mentions power generally gets paid more than other skills on a relative basis:

Though Pagan displays decent power, I wonder if the power premium for a guy like Upton is actually an at-least-partially-analytically-supported idea, since the value wOBA/wRC+ assigns to OBP-related events is derived under the assumption that a certain amount of power is present in the game.

In other words, of course ideally you want high OBP and high SLG from every guy in your lineup. However, if you can’t do that, for a lineup of a constant number of theoretical batting runs, it’s better from a run-scoring standpoint have a good mix of power and OBP than to rely largely on one or the other.

Mr. Skeptical
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Mr. Skeptical
3 years 5 months ago

“$40 million over four years is paying him like he’s basically a two and a half win player (assuming $5.5 million per win and inflation).”

Even if this is true, we have no reason to expect him to be worth 2.5 wins/year in 2016. Hell, we barely even have a reason to expect it in 2013. Just because he’s not Aubrey Huff doesn’t mean this contract is reasonable. There’s no way this is a better overall investment than Michael Bourn, and it’s even worse when you factor in that they could just stick Blanco in CF and add a new bat in LF. I’m blown away that anyone is arguing $40 million for Angel Pagan as being even remotely reasonable.

Steve
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Steve
3 years 5 months ago

Completely agree, I’m not big on Pagan and 40 mil for him is unreasonable. I respect the hell out of the Giants for some of the moves they’ve made, though.

Justin
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Justin
3 years 5 months ago

He obviously assumed aging since $5.5M x 2.5 x 4 = $55M

This is a guy that was worth ~$25M just last year, and somehow this is not even remotely reasonable?

Larry Yocum
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Larry Yocum
3 years 5 months ago

That’s just the market though. Paying $10 million a year for a CF that will get you plus WAR is probably a better use of funds than paying a MR over $7-8 million a year. Baseball is flush with money right now and the Giants probably have a little bit extra to spend after that WS run.

We have to really see what all the other CF go for before jumping to conclusions on whether it was a bad deal. What if Victorino signs for $50 million or Bourn gets $100 million. Neither would surprise me at this point. Even if this deal was a little high, it wasn’t absurd and probably what he was being offered from other clubs.

Coach Fish
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Coach Fish
3 years 5 months ago

Couldn’t agree more. This is not a good investment for SF, as Michael Bourn is the best overall center fielder on the market currently. Personally, I would have been ok with signing Swisher and putting him in left field, and moving Blanco to CF.

As far as I am concerned, this is Huff 2.0. Am I the only one who remembers the post 2010 hangover that gave Huff daddy $22 million?

cs3
Member
cs3
3 years 5 months ago

Swisher is likely to cost twice as much as Pagan and Blanco is not a good hitter.

Sure, Bourne is a much better defensive CF than Pagan, but Pagan is a significantly better hitter. And just like Swisher, Bourne is going to cost more, both in years and salary.

I mean Eno just did all the math for you guys. So what part of it are you not understanding?

Simon
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Simon
3 years 5 months ago

Logic fail? How does the fact that Bourn is the best available CF mean that this is a bad deal for the Giants?

the Dude
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the Dude
3 years 5 months ago

I feel like the Huff and Pagan deal don’t belong in the same conversation. Huff had one skill which was the hit tool and when that went he was basically useless. Below avg runner and below avg defense no matter what pos he played.

Pagan shows some power, speed and atleast avg defense at a premium position. And I don’t feel Blanco hits enough to warrant a starting job. So sure you’d rather have Pagan at 3 yrs but seems like Philly would have given him 4.

Coach Fish
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Coach Fish
3 years 5 months ago

I understand the cost surrounding Swisher, but the fact remains Pagan at 4 years is ridiculous for SF. Pagan and Bourn may have similar numbers from the 2012 season, but Bourn’s defense is better hands down. Bourn also beats Pagan in base running and runs created.

Additionally, SF drafted Gary Brown to be their CF of the future. Heading into 2013, Brown will most likely start in Fresno (AAA), but is now blocked with the addition of Pagan and his four year contract.

I understand the numbers as written above. What I don’t understand is the reasoning in signing Pagan to a four year deal, with Gary Brown 1-2 years away from the show.

Larry Yocum
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Larry Yocum
3 years 5 months ago

Plus the age difference between Huff and Pagan.

Pagan will be finishing up his contract at roughly the same age that the Giants signed Huff at. That is a HUGE difference, especially when talking about those decline years of 33-36. Huff was lucky to post one final solid season and the Giants should have known it. Pagan still has good years left.

Signing Bourn was NOT an option. Committing $90-$100 million to him makes it less likely you sign Posey to a big deal when his abitration is up. A contract like Pagan’s won’t interfere with that.

Coach Fish
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Coach Fish
3 years 5 months ago

That’s a good point regarding the cost to sign Bourn. I had failed to consider he was asking between $90-100 million.

I think everyone will agree signing Posey longterm is vital to SF’s longterm success.

cs3
Member
cs3
3 years 5 months ago

Coach Fish-
You said ” Bourn also beats Pagan in base running and runs created. ”

What are you talking about? Do you even try to base your assertions on fact?
Pagans career wRC+ is 104 and he has posted seasons as high as 121, 113, and 108.
Born has a career wRC+ of just 92, and he has not had even a single season in which his wRC was above Pagans career average. His highest season total is only 104.

So you are actually flat out wrong

Coach
Member
Coach
3 years 5 months ago

cs3:

I used the 2012 RC data from the Bill James Handbook (2013). I looked at the 2012 RC numbers, along with the career RC numbers, both of which favor Bourn.

I’ll be the first to admit I am still new to Sabermetrics, and I was unaware Fangraph’s improved Bill James’ RC with wRC. So, thanks for pointing that out.

cs3
Member
cs3
3 years 5 months ago

Coach Fish
Sorry I came across as a dick. I apparently became a little too invested this topic.

Daniel
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Daniel
3 years 5 months ago

What does “scratch” mean?

Shankbone
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Shankbone
3 years 5 months ago

I’ve been a big fan of Pagan for a while – at a price point. Eno as you well know on your Mets he was a mixed bag with the injuries and was sort of a polarizing figure. Been very happy with him since the trade, I would say his OF routes have some adventure but he makes up with speed and has the knack for the good highlight play from time to time.

To differ, I’d say for the most part he’s a very good baserunner. His last 3 years SB/CS are: 37/9, 32/7, 29/7. The thing I love about him is he’s almost an automatic run scoring from 2nd on a base hit. After dealing with a bunch of galoots out there in the French Vanilla, that has been fun to watch. Also, the Giants aren’t known for their SB acumen, he was pleasantly consistent last year.

Giants had to overpay a year to secure him from the Phils. I think most fans shrug their shoulders, cost of doing business. As long as he’s in CF he has a good chance to play up to and exceed WAR ratios. And on the intangibles front, its miles ahead of Shane Victorino.

LTG
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LTG
3 years 5 months ago

What exactly are the “intangibles” that are problematic with Victorino? (besides the fact that many non-Phillies fans hate him, which has precisely zero weight, since those fans will not abandon their teams if one signs him.)

Dave S
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Dave S
3 years 5 months ago

Victorino has done nothing except work his tail off on the baseball diamond for his entire career. FWIW, Victorino is 8 months older than Pagan, and has earned 27.2 career WAR, compared to Pagan’s 15.1

I’m thinking, at the same price, some team may be quite happy with Shane.

Robbie G.
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Robbie G.
3 years 5 months ago

I’m thinking that Shane Victorino is very liable to wind up with less than four years, and a lower (or at least close to equal) $/year.

Did the Giants find out if Victorino would go for, say, three years, $25-$30 mil? Seems like that would be a good piece of information to have right there. Hell, Victorino might’ve been willing to sign with the Giants for something like two years, $20-$22 mil.

Seems to me that we’re seeing what we often see from teams during the offseason following a championship run: overpays for role players. Angel Pagan’s a solid player, but I don’t remember the Giants having to give up much in order to acquire him. I agree with some other dudes (see above); $40 mil for Angel Pagan seems like a lot.

Jason
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Jason
3 years 5 months ago

Victorino was pretty terrible last year. And at his age you have to at least account for the risk that its the begining of a significant decline in physical ability and production. I’d rather have Pagan at 4/40 than Victorino at 2/22. I bet the Giant’s scouts tell them the same thing.

If GM’s are making decisions on 30+ year old talent based on career aggregation rather than recent direct observation that is a recipe for some regretable acquisitions.

Shankbone
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Shankbone
3 years 5 months ago

Well, Victorino is sitting on 1076 Games and 4295 PAs, Pagan is at 695 and 2653. That makes up part of the career WAR equation.

Victorino is looking at 3 years and apparently a 4 year offer, if you’re believing the rumor mill today. I doubt he’s getting a 2/20MM.

They are pretty similar players, I’ll agree with that. Pagan has better splits against RHP, and he has a much better arm. The intangibles was my joke about Giants fans not liking him due to his playing style. Victorino has neutral splits, but its worth noting that Pagan has had to play in Citi and AT&T for his home splits, Shane has done well at Citizens, but equally well on the road.

ValueArb
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ValueArb
3 years 5 months ago

Well Shane is called the “Flying Hawaiian”. Many may think it’s because of his speed, but I prefer it’s because he always carries a huge bag of sweet Maui herb with him.

BillWallace
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BillWallace
3 years 5 months ago

I have this contract as a huge win for the Giants. As Eno noted, given current reasonable assumptions the breakeven point is for Pagan to be a 2.5 win player next year and declining. But I have him projected for 3 wins, making this contract a $11M win. Unreasonable yes, but in the other direction from what you think.

Whole Camels
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Whole Camels
3 years 5 months ago

“Pagan plays a premium up-the-middle defensive position at least to a scratch level, . . .

. . . His routes in center field leave him short of scratch defensively in center field, and sometimes he makes mistakes on the basepaths.”

So is he or isn’t he scratch?

algionfriddo
Member
algionfriddo
3 years 5 months ago

To Shankbone…
“Pagan has better splits against RHP, and he has a much better arm.”
It sure looks like Pagan has notably weaker throwing arm to me but do count me as a Pagan fan.

WillieMaysField
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

Crowdsourcing had pagan at 3 for 30M. BJ upton at 4 for 52m and Bourn 5 for 70m. We know Upton got 5 for 75m and Bourn’s asking price is higher. I would rather have Pagan than Bourn at those prices.

Bill
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Bill
3 years 5 months ago

Ridiculous prices, but that’s what you get in free agency.

Yes, Pagan has had two nice seasons with @ 5 WAR, 2010 and 2012. Those also happen to be his only two health seasons that I could see, and he’s turning 31.

Baserunning accounts for a good amount of his WAR, that is likely to decline. Injury concerns must be factored in, a decline in baserunning and quite possibly fielding. He could be a bargain, or it could go sideways.

Unbelievable the prices though, maybe hamilton will get the 175mil he’s looking for, if upton can get 5/75, why not 6/175 for hamilton? at least 150mil. absurd.

Grady
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3 years 5 months ago

Is it $5.5MM/WAR these days? This is the first I’ve seen that high, and had been going with $5MM/WAR so far this offseason. Is there something I missed that I could possibly be linked towards?

BillWallace
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BillWallace
3 years 5 months ago

I’ve been using $5.5/war and it seems to be fitting most contracts pretty well. It can never be more than an estimate of course but we’ll have more confidence later in the offseason with more signings. It does make sense that it would have gone up from the $5 that was used in the previous 2 offseasons.

Eric R
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Eric R
3 years 5 months ago

Among the guys who have already signed:

The Affeldt, Guthrie, Iwakuma, Napoli and Upton deals would have me thinking $5.5M/win or higher…

But the Broxton, Pagan, Hunter, Kuroda, Martin, Ortiz, Pettitte deals pull it back towards $5M.

I’ve been using $5M for 2012 and tacking on 5% for 2013 [$5.25M] until something indicates differently :)

Foothills Ryan
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Foothills Ryan
3 years 5 months ago

Deal looks good to me. No reason he can’t average 3 WAR/season considering he was over 5 last year.

5.5 M/WAR? How about 6, 6.5? 7 by the end of the deal. Funny money. “TV Money”.

dafuq
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dafuq
3 years 5 months ago

Buy a dictionary. You still don’t know what arbitrary means after I pointed this out to your repeatedly.

Idea Guy
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Idea Guy
3 years 5 months ago

Buy a copy of “How not to be a raging douche.” I think there’s a chapter on refraining from stomping up and down like a spoiled child over a minor grammar/usage quibble when the thrust of the article is crystal clear.

Enjoy, and happy holidays.

Dave G.
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

I’d say it’s a slight overpay. Depends on whether he can hit righthanded like he did last year. In certain seasons, he’s been a pretty poor hitter from the right side, which limits his value. But, in that park, he going to continue to rack up the triples.

Qksilver
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Qksilver
3 years 5 months ago

What puzzles me are Giants fans who think this will somehow impede Brown. Pagan can move to LF when Brown is ready to take over, at a time when Pagan’s speed will be in decline. And the question on Bourn @ 80M or so vs. Pagan @ 40M or so is an easy call for me – not enough difference between the two to warrant that overpay on Bourn. Yes there is a chance there is 10M of dead money in year 4, but it’s not a bad risk, and I believe Philly had offered 4 years already, just all things being roughly equal, Pagan wanted to come back to SF.

Vern the Destroyer
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Vern the Destroyer
3 years 5 months ago

Victarino’s $39 mm over 3 years makes Sabean look like a genius. There’s your best available comp (which is how this all works). Anyone who says the Giants overpaid is officially foolish.

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