The Angel Returneth: Pagan Coming Back

It’s hard to believe, but Angel Pagan has been out of action for over a month, playing last on April 21st-the same day Jason Bay returned to the lineup.  Out since then with an oblique injury, Pagan is slated to come off the shelf in time for the weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies.  For the Mets, this is good news.

Angel has appeared in only 19 games this season, most of which were a struggle.  In 82 plate appearances, he hit only .159/.259/.246 with one homer.  He’s just 1-24 from the right side of the plate and had all sorts of trouble getting anything going.  Even his defense has been a little off; although he hasn’t cost the Mets any runs defensively, he’s committed one error (he had two all of last year) and has an ultimate zone rating of -0.7.  The Mets have tried a few different options in center since Pagan went down, but career minor leaguer Jason Pridie has received the bulk of the playing time.  To his credit, Pridie has performed well enough, and I even espoused his virtues, but at the end of the day, I’d rather have Pagan.

For one, the sample size for Pagan this season is relatively small.  From 2006-09, Angel was often plagued by injuries, but still posted a respectable .281/.331/.433 batting line.  Last season, healthy for the first time for an entire year, Pagan broke out, batting .290/.340/.425 with 11 homers and 37 stolen bases in 46 tries.  He played all three outfield positions an excelled on defense, saving a total of 14 runs with a UZR of 15.4.  His WAR of 4.7 was the best on the squad and good for ninth among position players in the National League.  In short, Angel has a good track record.

Pridie, on the other hand, is getting his first real taste of major league action.  He got off to a hot start, batting .300/.349/.600 with three homers and eight RBI over his first 45 plate appearances, but has since cooled down considerably to where he’s now hitting .235/.316/.400, while also fanning 23 times in a total of 97 PA.  Pridie has been an asset on defense, however, saving four runs and covering ground in center.

So while Pridie has done an admirable job filling in, Pagan will be welcome back to his customary position in center field and likely the two spot in the lineup.  That isn’t to say Pridie won’t stay on the roster (Fernando Martinez will likely be demoted), as he’s earned the opportunity to come off the bench.  Hopefully Pagan will be able to pick up where he left off last season and contribute once again to the Mets lineup.

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