Andres Torres vs. Angel Pagan

Aside from age, Andres Torres and Angel Pagan have much in common. Both are swift switch-hitters who impressed in brief big league playing time in 2009 and broke out while holding full-time gigs in 2010. Entering the 2011 season, the two are side-by-side in terms of outfielder ADP: according to MockDraftCentral, Torres is 56th among fly catchers, while Pagan is 57th. So, who’s the better bet on draft day?

Torres, 33, toiled in the minors for the better part of a decade before getting meaningful at-bats in the show. Originally selected out of Puerto Rico by the Tigers in the fourth round of the 1998 draft, the sprinter-turned-ball player passed through the Detroit, Chicago (South Side), Texas, Minnesota, Detroit (again) and Chicago (North Side this time) organizations before San Francisco signed him as a minor league free agent during the winter of 2009.

In 740 MLB plate appearances with the Giants, Torres has a .269/.343/.492 line. He was placed on the DL twice with hamstring problems in 2009, and an appendectomy as well as groin and hip soreness limited him in 2010, but Torres has shown excellent secondary skills and speed when on the field. Walking in nearly 10 percent of his PA and making good use of Triples Alley, Torres had a .223 Isolated Power over 2009-2010. On the bases, he nabbed 32 SB in 40 attempts, an 80 percent success rate.

Possessing those upper-echelon wheels (7.9 Speed Score) Torres has posted a .334 BABIP with the Giants. His expected BABIP (xBABIP) over that time frame, based on his number of homers, whiffs, stolen bases, line drives, fly balls, pop ups and grounders, was .324. Speed players generally post a higher BABIP, and Torres certainly fits the bill. But given that we’re dealing with around a season and a quarter’s worth of data here, it’s fair to assume Torres won’t post a .330+ BABIP next year.

So, what do the projection systems say about Torres for 2011?

ZiPS: 444 PA, .252/.319/.428, 17 SB
Oliver: 589 PA, .253/.319/.422, 17 SB
PECOTA: 500 PA, .251/.321/.412, 20 SB

The three forecasts are pretty similar: a dip in batting average from the .270 range closer to .250, with above-average, but not elite power (.161 to .176 ISO) and what seem like conservative SB totals.

Pagan, meanwhile, had his career defined more by injuries than on-field accomplishments until recently. Like Torres, Pagan was a fourth-rounder selected out of Puerto Rico, though Angel went a year later in 1999. Pagan was a Mets draft pick and remained in the organization until 2005, but New York traded him to the Cubs in January of ’06 for cash considerations. He scarcely got on the field for Chicago. Angel was bedeviled by a hamstring injury in ’06, and suffered from colitis in 2007. The Mets re-acquired him prior to 2008, but the injuries kept coming: a torn labrum in 2008, and bone spurs as well as a pulled groin in 2009.

Pagan was superb when he was in the lineup in ’09, and he followed up with a healthy, near five WAR season in 2010. In slightly more than a thousand PA over the past two years, Pagan holds a .296/.344/.448 triple-slash, with 51 steals in 67 tries (76.1 percent success rate).

El Caballo Loco” hasn’t shown Torres’ patience (6.8 percent walk rate) or power (.152 ISO). But he has punched out considerably less — Pagan’s K rate over ’09-10 was 16.6%, compared to Torres’ 26.3%. Pagan has put the ball in play more, while also holding a high BABIP (.338), helping to explain his higher batting average. As is the case with Torres, Pagan is a burner (7.5 Speed Score) who should post a higher-than-average BABIP. His .326 xBABIP does suggest that a batting average closer to .280 is more realistic, though.

Here are Pagan’s 2011 projections:

ZiPS: 448 PA, .278/.326/.424, 21 SB
Oliver: 692 PA, .281/.329/.415, 28 SB
PECOTA: 435 PA, .271/.324/.390, 29 SB

All three suggest a .270-.280 average, with ZiPS (.146 projected ISO) expecting more power than Oliver (.134) or PECOTA (.121).

Torres and Pagan do project as similarly valuable hitters, though they get there in different ways: Torres with more walks and pop, and Pagan with better contact skills. Both figure to be good for 20-plus steals. And, with Aaron Rowand becoming a scrappy $12 million Gatorade drinker and sunflower flicker, Carlos Beltran‘s knees necessitating a move to an outfield corner and Fernando Martinez’s stock dropping, both Torres and Pagan are entrenched as full-time players.

It truly is hard to separate the two. If I had to pick one, though, I’d lean toward Torres. He is older and isn’t a picture of perfect health himself (he’s currently dealing with a strained oblique), but Torres works the count better, raps more extra-base hits, and doesn’t have Pagan’s Tolstoy-esque DL history.

Which speedy center fielder do you prefer? Enter projections for Torres and Pagan.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


29 Responses to “Andres Torres vs. Angel Pagan”

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  1. attgig says:

    I prefer Pagan. I think because he can get on base more, he’ll get better steal totals (more like 15-20 more than torres – though there’s all the talk about moneyball and mets not running…).
    While torres does get more hr’s, i don’t think last year is his max, and the diff in hr’s will be < 5.
    and while Pagan may have more injury history, things like the torn labrum was going over the railing in dodger stadium playing LF (he was playing well in 08 as well).
    I think the cronic injuries are behind him, and with torres being 33, i would trust his body less at this point.

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  2. DrBGiantsfan says:

    After years of slap and dash like he was coached to do, Andres Torres sensed his opportunity slipping away and took matters into his own hands. He decided he wanted a swing like Albert Pujols! He contacted a hitting coach he found on the internet who worked with him via e-mail and exchanging videos with a couple of in-person lessons and completely reworked his swing and approach. Torres is a strong dude and swings a 35 oz bat and swings it hard, now with a slight uppercut to his swing.

    His results with the Giants, first as a reserve and then as a starter last year are dramatic and sustained. Last year, he did not become a starter until almost May and he lost the entire month of September to the appendectomy and convalescence. In between, for the months of May-August he put up some pretty astonishing numbers: .287/.364/.519. If you project his counting stats for those 4 months to 6 healthy months as a starter he would have put up 111 Runs, 80 RBI’s, 22 HR’s and 33 SB’s. Combined with his stellar defense in CF, those are MVP numbers! After a tough NLDS, his numbers in the NLCS and WS were comparable to his May-August numbers. He’s raking again so far in spring training.

    I don’t know how the projection systems arrived at their numbers. I know some of them take the last 3 years into consideration. I am quite sure that they are all grossly underestimating what Andres Torres will do in 2011. The only question is whether he can stay healthy, but this guy is in great shape and no more of an injury risk than any other 33 year old and probably a lot less. If you are looking for an OF who is likely to greatly outperform his fantasy ADP, look no further than Andres Torres!

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    • Jason B says:

      “I am quite sure that they are all grossly underestimating what Andres Torres will do in 2011.”

      Spoken like a true Giants’ fan =)

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    • brendan says:

      as a giants fan, I’ve been as impressed w/ torres as anyone. I really enjoyed his 2010 performance, but I have to admit I see him regressing a bit this year. I think there will be some struggles as pitchers try to focus on his weaknesses; or maybe I just predict regression for no reason other than: regression to the mean happens. Are you really going to predict another almost 7 WAR season? I really hope so, but I wouldn’t count on it.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I think he could have another 6 WAR season, maybe even more if he stays healthy all year and plays up to what he’s done when healthy for 2 years now, but even if he regresses a little, he will still be a very valuable player, even in fantasy. I don’t think he is going to have a major regression barring injury. What he’s doing is for real.

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    • BlackOps says:

      Hey guys… Angel Pagan is severely underrated. Last year between May and July, he hit .327/.386/.517! If those numbers were stretched out over the whole season… he’d hit 40 doubles, 10 triples, and 16 HR and steal 42 bases! (from above, Torres May-August: .287/.364/.519).

      We could do this for any number of players: isolate part of the season, show how well they hit, and say “if X player did this for the whole season.. they’d be MVP!” I know you want to show how good Torres could be because you love him, I love Angel Pagan, I get it. I don’t think this is the way to go about it though, because I just isolated Pagan’s best part of the season and… surprise.. like their final batting line, it’s strikingly similar.

      I think this is more telling: (obviously Torres was hurt for part of this. There may be more of an excuse for him, but it is worth noting this was Pagan’s first time playing over 100 games since 2005.)
      2nd half Torres: .254/.303/.475 16:67 BB:K
      2nd half Pagan: .263/.304/.374 16:51 BB:K

      So… both of these guys had parts of their season when they played like MVPs and parts where they were pretty damn marginal… all coming out to be roughly the same player. In the end, it’s probably a matter of personal preference. I’d say that Pagan IS the safer bet, but Torres obviously has more upside due to his power. My guess is that neither is much better or worse than the other.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Well, if there is an explanation why Pagan’s numbers were not as good in April,
        August and September, then you may well be right that his season stats underrate him. Take a look at Andres Torres’ numbers in September when he was still convalescing from the Appy and tell me they didn’t put a huge drag on his second half split. That is a specific reason for a 1 month cratering of his stats that was a one time event pretty much guaranteed to not happen again since the offending body part is in a pathologists file somewhere. He came back from that to play pretty well in the NLCS and WS if I recall correctly.

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  3. Ed Nelson says:

    Torres by a hair. All the projection systems a dinking him because of a lousy minor league career. That said how many ABs before we admit he’s got legit power. Experts hate guys like Pagan and Torres because they sneak up on you and experts love pointing out busts a lot more than they like going out on a limb on a guy like Torres. Easier to call him a fluke than rate him high and take a chance on your rep if your wrong.

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  4. STEALTH says:

    Before I read the article I thought to myself, “Easy… I’ll take Pagan.” I’m not so sure anymore. I guess I’ll try to nab one after the other gets chosen.

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  5. jeffrey gross says:

    Considering I have pagan pegged to hit .278/12/35/90/65, I’ll take pagan. He’s valuable in 3 OF leagues. Torres, not so much. Plenty of Torres types out there

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      That just might be the most arrogant, uninformed post I’ve ever seen! I thought ranking Matt Cain as the #38 SP took the cake, but you outdid yourself here. You go right ahead and take Pagan and advise all your fantasy readers to take him too. I’ll take Andres Torres and kick your butt!

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      • Ryan Bones says:

        I agree DrB.. Torres is a different player than he was 2 years ago.. My only beef with him is that he did it at such a late age.. If he made his adjustments at age 27, everyone would be talking about how he’s just a late bloomer and how he’s the next jason werth

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Don’t get me wrong, my beef with Jeffrey isn’t so much with the optimistic projection of Pagan who I think is a very interesting late fantasy draft target, but with him just dismissing Torres without comment. If it’s deep keeper league, maybe the age difference becomes a bigger factor, but for one season, 33 is not too old, especially for a guy who keeps himself in as great a shape as Torres.

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      • Jason B says:

        “I thought ranking Matt Cain as the #38 SP took the cake, but you outdid yourself here.”

        Again…spoken like a true Giants fan. =) Have you found any (perceived) slights and injustices not involving Cain, Torres, Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, Buster Posey, etc etc?

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I think you are well aware of the extensive discussion surrounding Matt Cain. I believe the evidence is becoming much more clear that his success is sustainable and not due to “luck.” I think I’ve made an objective case for Andres Torres here, take it or leave it, but if you disagree, at least do it on the merits of the stats rather than a cheap shot at what team I root for. I have not commented on Sandoval, Posey or Freddy Sanchez so I’m not sure why you brought their names up.

        I’ve never claimed to be unbiased nor tried to hide what team I root for. I think it’s pretty obvious from my screen name.

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      • Reuben says:

        His point is people would be more interested in what you had to say on a non Giants site if you ever talked about anybody besides the Giants. But hey, keep doing your thing. I guess it works for you.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I do comment on other things when I have something to say. I entered into the discussion about some of the offseason trades, and took an unpopular position on the Vernon Wells trade to point out just on specific case.

        I just happen to know a lot more about the Giants players and I think my perspective from having watched them play hundred of games and also spend a lot of time studying them statistically is something that adds to the discussion. If you don’t think so you are free to ignore it and move along.

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  6. Jerry D says:

    I’d have to say Pagan… I agree (for the most part) with the projections found in these articles:
    Pagan – http://rotosaurus.blogspot.com/2011/02/skeptics-and-true-believers-angel-pagan.html
    Torres – http://rotosaurus.blogspot.com/2011/02/skeptics-and-true-believers-andres.html

    Pagan is hitting 2nd so he’ll get more opps for RBI even though he has less pop than Torres, who is leading-off… but I think Pagan will steal more bags and hit for a higher AVG so he comes out on top

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  7. Calogero says:

    “But given that we’re dealing with around a season and a quarter’s worth of data here, it’s fair to assume Torres won’t post a .330+ BABIP next year.”

    Why is that fair to assume?

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  8. Dingo says:

    Nice comparison of two very similar players. I also liked the line about Angel being ‘bedeviled’ by a hamstring injury.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      The hammy was really not a major issue last year. His performance from May 1 -Sept 1 was actually very steady and near MVP level. The two factors that dragged down his numbers: 1. He wasn’t a starter in April 2. The appendicitis and appendectomy in September.

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      • Anon says:

        ANGEL, as in ANGEL PAGAN, NOT ANDRES TORRES had a hamstring injury.

        I know you’re a huge homer and feel the need to defend every perceived slight against your team, but at least try to read 100% of the comment before making your own next time.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I’m sorry for reading it wrong. I’ll try to do better next time.

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  9. Ed Nelson says:

    I’m no Giants fan but I can see that Torres was on pace for 20 homers, 30 steals, 90-95 runs, 70 RBIs, with a .210 ISO, .275 AVG and a 10% BB rate. If you didn’t know it was Andres Torres those numbers look like a better version of Shane Victorino. The difference is Victorino is going on most lists as a top 20 OF and Torres is usually going in the middle 40s to low 50s. Most of that is based on statistical projection and not much else.

    And that’s why an article like this is so important to fantasy players because the Angel Pagans, Andres Torres’, Dan Ugglas, Casey Mcgehees, and R.A. Dickeys of the world are where statistical projections fail and where the real value can be found. The sabermetric knowledge of even the average fan has grown so much in the last few years that it is no longer as easy to get a leg up on the competition by looking at projections to find value. We all have that info now. But the one place projections clearly fail is their inability to see late bloomers. PECOTA dinked Uggla as nothing more than a fluke for years before the computer figured it out.

    If you grabbed Torres or Pagan last year at the end of an auction for a buck and someone else put out $38 for Justin Upton, well you got the better deal. These are the moves that win leagues not the $40 you spend on Cano or taking Miguel Cabrera in the first round.

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  10. Nick C-B says:

    Not really fantasy-relevant, but worth mentioning anyways.

    I don’t know much about how the projection systems come up with their numbers, but why is Pagan’s OBP projected as higher than Torres’ across the board even though Pagan “hasn’t shown Torres’ patience (6.8 percent walk rate)”? Torres has posted a .343 OBP in back-to-back seasons with a walk rate at 9.4% in ’09 and 9.8% in ’10. I see no reason why he’s going to suddenly regress all the way down to a .320 OBP.

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  11. Edwin Nelson says:

    PECOTA sees Torres performance as a fluke based on

    A. His age (too old)
    B. His size (PECOTA hates tiny guys with high SLG%)
    C. His history (his early minor league career was not good, and his later success makes him look very AAAA)
    D. High BABIP

    None of this is absolutely relevant and PECOTA has very little love for Ichiro every year for similar reasons (do you see Ichiro batting .287 this year? Me neither).

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  12. Bigmouth says:

    Torres. But I’m a Giants fan.

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