With injuries to some notable outfielders — notably Carlos Gonzalez and though not likely as serious, Andrew McCutchen — it may be worth taking a look at someone returning from an injury who can replace them in your fantasy lineup, Angel Pagan.
Since everything in fantasy baseball comes down to the numbers, let’s start there.
Angel Pagan, 2014
If you actually are trying to replace someone like Gonzalez or McCutchen, there’s probably one major problem you’re noticing, so it’s probably best to address that first.
Pagan will not provide the kind of power that they do. He’s never had more than 11 homers in a single season and batting at the top of the order — a National League order, at that — you won’t get too many RBI.
The value of Pagan will come from the other categories, but that’s a pretty substantial potential value.
While Pagan’s been a little better than normal in 2014, his career OBP indicates that Pagan does a fine job of getting on base. His 2014 OBP (.353) indicates that he’s doing a lot better than that this year.
Now, you need to get on base to score a run but getting on base doesn’t guarantee that that will happen. If you’ve watched the Giants a lot this year, especially since early June, you might be a little less than enthused when you look at the Giants run totals this year. That’s justifiable, but much of the Giants run-scoring challenges came from a lack of depth that was badly exposed when Pagan was hurt.
Even with Pagan back in the lineup, the Giants have an iffy lineup depth-wise, but guys like Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford won’t be who Pagan (and his fantasy owners) rely on for runs scored. No, Pagan will be driven in predominately by the likes of Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval, and you can do a lot worse than that.
You can do worse than that, but you can do a little better, too.
Something that frequently limits top-of-the-order base stealers is that a few bad things can happen if they steal.
- They’re caught, taking a runner off base for one of the team’s best power hitters.
- They’re successful, moving into scoring position, but opening up a base for the opposing team to walk the feared hitter.
With the possible exception of a hot Posey, none of the Giants have that fear. Sure, the opposing team may walk the guy at the plate, but I doubt that Bruce Bochy sees much of a downgrade from any one of those players to the next one.
Also, Posey and to a lesser extent Sandoval, double play candidates, giving the Giants another reason to send Pagan.
Translation: If Pagan reaches base, he’ll steal plenty of bags.
Here’s where we don’t follow conventional logic.
Generally speaking, AT&T Park is a terrible place to hit, as is Pagan’s previous home stadium, Citi Field.
But Pagan’s not a power hitter. He makes his living at the plate hitting line drives and that’s not a theory, Fangraphs backs it up.
Angel Pagan Line Drive Rates
|Line Drive Rate||24.0 %||22.5%||23.3 %||26.7 %|
Again, a little high in 2013, but he consistently drives the ball, looking for gaps.
Do you know where that works really well? Parks with big gaps, and with the exception of Coors Field and Chase Field which are both hitters parks for environmental reasons, stadiums with big gaps are all pitcher’s parks. Pagan’s career splits are really telling.
At Citi Field, he’s a career .300 hitter. At AT&T Park, he’s a career .285 hitter. Going on the road, he’s a .358 hitter at Chase Field and a .320 hitter at Dodger Stadium.
On the other hand, his numbers at smaller parks like Minute Maid Park in Houston (.161) and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (.217) are poor. Outfielders can play in at smaller parks and therefore, they’re not as vulnerable to balls falling in front of them and the gaps aren’t as deadly.
Pagan’s got a lot of divisional games left. That’s three hitters parks (San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles), and two hitters parks (Colorado, Arizona). All five have big gaps, which will get him a lot of extra base hits, and cheap singles that fall in front of the outfield.
Pagan’s batting average should be just fine for the rest of the way.
Rest of Season Projections
Angel Pagan, Rest of Season Projections
Obviously you have to ask a few questions there.
- Do you agree with my numbers?
- If not, am I too optimistic or pessimistic?
- If so, will those numbers help your team pick up a few extra points?
I don’t know what kind of roster everyone has but from a general point of view, Angel Pagan projects well for the rest of 2014.