In this series, I will be focusing on 3 hitters who came out of relative obscurity to become solid fantasy contributors recently - Angel Pagan, Andres Torres, and Casey McGehee. Many fantasy owners still believe they are flukes due to their modest minor league track records and age. Were they just flukes? Let's find out if we should be skeptics... or true believers.
Pagan's minor league resume showed he had the ability to steal 30+ bases, but he had very little power. The main thing holding him back was his inability to hit for a consistently good AVG. In 2002 in A ball he hit .279. Then in 2003 in A+ ball he hit .249. In 2004 in AA he hit .287.. then in AAA in 2005 he was back down to a .271 AVG. Pagan then had a few stints in the majors where he showed next to nothing with mediocre averages.
Then, in half of a season for the Mets in 2009, he showed he had a little pop, decent base-stealing ability, and the ability to hit for good average. No one paid any attention to him though he was already 27 years-old and had never shown anything in the majors before, so they assumed it was a fluke. I actually did target Pagan late in a couple deep leagues last season because he was going to be starting for Beltran (who was injured to start the season) and Pagan showed he had potential to contribute in every category. Little did I know he would become a mainstay on all of my teams for which I could acquire him.
Pagan finished with 11 HR, 37 SB, 80 Runs, and even 69 RBI to go along with a .290 AVG. So the question becomes, is this now 29 year-old still just a fluke, or is he for real? Some players do blossom later in their careers, so it’s not unprecedented that Angel could have developed legitimate skills. Still, many will be skeptical… thinking that he will not repeat his possible career-year performance from 2010. Well, let’s break down the numbers and see whether he can repeat or not.
To start with, he doesn’t strike out much – 97 times in 633 plate appearances. In fact, Pagan has always had very good contact rates throughout his limited minor and major league career. He had an 87% contact percentage last season which was right in line with his career average. His AVG in 2009 (.306) may have been a little bloated due to his 89.3% contact percentage, but Pagan’s .290 AVG last season is about what you can expect to get from Pagan from here on out.
Looking at Pagan’s numbers in his small stints here and there, his 11 HRs last season seems just about right… he doesn’t likely have upside there, but at least he gives you SOME pop.
Pagan’s main source of value, obviously, lies in his stolen bases. Though he showed decent base stealing ability in 2009 with 14 in a little over half of a season, it was a big jump to 37 steals last season. Angel was caught 9 times also for a success rate of 80%... which is acceptable. This seems to be the main source of skepticism regarding Pagan: Will he be able to repeat or improve upon his 37 steals? No projection system that I have seen seems to think so… but at the same time, it isn’t a complete fluke. He showed consistent 30+ base-stealing ability in every year in the minors with the exception of his last one (27 bases) because he was caught 15 times. I would put him down for around 30 steals… anything more is bonus.
Hitting 2nd for a Mets team with a healthy Reyes, Beltran, and Bay bodes well for Pagan improving upon his Runs… though I do think it would be difficult for him to improve upon his 69 RBI.
So the question is – would you take an OF who can give you about 10 HR, 30 SB, 90 Runs, 65 RBI, and a .290 AVG? I know I sure would. I especially love guys who don’t hurt you in any category… and Pagan is either average or above average in every category. I am a true believer in this Angel.