It’s hard to play in New York and fly under the radar. Every performance is magnified, and the always on media machine beats every remotely interesting subject to death. So, while he’s played a lot of good of baseball over the last two years, perhaps the most impressive thing about Angel Pagan is how underrated he still appears to be.
Since the start of the 2008 season, Pagan has received 585 plate appearances, or just about one full season’s worth of playing time. In that time span, he’s posted a .355 wOBA and a +14.4 UZR while playing primarily in center field. That performance adds up to a total value of +4.9 wins, the sixth most of any center fielder in baseball during that time frame.
Pagan is the classic jack of all trades, master of none, and his skillset is routinely undervalued for its lack of any one outstanding trait. He hits for a good average, but not so good that he’s among the league leaders. He draws some walks, but isn’t an on base machine. He has gap power, but his slugging is mostly made up of doubles and triples, not the more flashy home runs. He runs decently, but isn’t a huge base stealer. He’s a good defender, but doesn’t make a lot of spectacular plays.
Pagan has no glaring strength (aside from his glovework, but the samples are still pretty small to judge whether he’s actually an elite defender), but neither does he have any weaknesses. He’s the National League’s version of David DeJesus – just a good quality player who never gets the recognition he deserves.
DeJesus, of course, has never been relegated to a reserve role behind Gary Matthews Jr. That experiment mercifully lasted less than a week before the Mets realized the error of their ways, but still, Pagan was so lightly thought of that he had to beat out Matthews for a job to begin with.
When Carlos Beltran returns, the Mets will have a decision to make. The answer is actually pretty easy – Jeff Francoeur goes to the bench, as he’s clearly the worst outfielder on the team. We’ll see if the Mets get it right this time, and recognize just what they have in Pagan – a quality outfielder who deserves to play everyday.