Beginning today, I will be posting a weekly Around the Foghorn article naming one of the San Francisco Giants as most valuable player for the previous week. I will be examining games from the previous Sunday through Saturday, looking for the one player who has had that standout week. Whether with his bat, glove or mind, this player has gone above and beyond and led the Giants closer to the playoffs. Whether his contributions fall under the mindset of tangible or intangible help, is immaterial, so long as it takes the Giants one step closer to post-season play.
Angel Pagan is this week’s Most Valuable San Francisco Giant. Not only did he bat .375 (9 for 24), but he had an on-base percentage of .500 (15 for 30). He provided the spark that enabled the Giants to overcome Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles, take another series from the Braves, and at least prevent the Marlins from once again having their way.
Yes, Hunter Pence is beginning to resemble the Pence from last season and yes, Pablo Sandoval has a nine-game hitting streak and has raised his average fifty points from a week ago to .220. And Michael Morse leads the team in home runs with ten and Sergio Romo has fifteen saves in sixteen chances. But Pagan is the circuit breaker; when he’s down the electricity operating the Giants, tends to fizzle.
Angel, playing in the City of Angels last Sunday, with Clayton Kershaw making his debut at Chavez Ravine, had two hits, two walks, and scored three runs, as the Giants deflated the Dodgers 10-7 in ten innings.
His first hit came as he led off the game and resulted in his scoring a critical first-inning run.
Angel also doubled in the sixth but was left stranded when Hunter Pence struck out and Buster Posey grounded out to second. Defensively, in the sixth inning, Pagan fired a one-hop seed to Buster Posey at the plate to gun down Adrian Gonzalez. As always, timing was everything because the play occurred during the Dodgers’ two-run uprising and prevented the rally from getting seriously ugly.
Even when he doesn’t get a hit during a plate appearance, Pagan contributes. In this game he led off the tenth with a walk and scored the go-ahead run. He thus scored the first run of the game off of Kershaw to start the offense, and he scored the go-ahead run off of closer Kenley Jansen, to seal the deal, and take the third game of the four-game set.
On Monday night against the Atlanta Braves, Pagan went 3 for 4, singling in the third, sixth and seventh, in helping Tim Lincecum and the Giants secure the first of the three-game set. After they swept the series in Atlanta, San Francisco wanted very much to snag this first game.
In Tuesday night’s loss to the Braves, Pagan walked and got as far as third base, but that was the extent of his offense in a 5-0 defeat. Ironically, even when Pagan sat out Wednesday’s scheduled rest day, his replacement, Gregor Blanco, excelled by accomplishing something even Willie Mays never did: he scored three runs and stole three bases in the same game, leading the Giants to a 10-4, series-clinching victory over Atlanta. The Giants took five of the six games played against the Braves this season.
Pagan was back in Thursday’s 6-4 win over Miami, leading off the game with a single, walking and scoring the tying run in the fifth, and leading off the sixth with a single. This was another important game because the Marlins have had such ownage on the Giants at AT&T Park since 2009. They knew that to take the first game would go far to prevent another series loss.
In Friday’s 7-5 loss to the Marlins, Pagan went 2-5 with a double, scoring the Giants’ first run in the first inning when Pablo doubled him home. In the bottom of the fifth, he doubled and scored on Posey’s sacrifice fly, bringing San Francisco to within one run, 5-4.
Finally, in the seventh, with the score tied 5-5, Pagan made one of the most electrifying catches of the season, racing to the left-center warning track to haul in a drive off the bat of Derek Dietrich, and managing to hang onto it as he hit the wall-hard.
It was the kind of play that typifies Angel Pagan’s presence in center field. Though the Giants went on to lose the game, 7-5, Pagan played a huge role to get them at least tied up in the sixth.
Though Pagan sprained his right shoulder diving for a ball on Saturday night, landing on his right elbow and causing a tremendous amount of pressure on the shoulder, Sunday’s MRI did not indicate anything seriously amiss that would keep him out of the lineup longer than Sunday and the scheduled off-day Monday; I expect to see him in the lineup on Tuesday
San Francisco is atop the National League West by three games over the Colorado Rockies and five over the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Angel Pagan is a huge reason why. Feel free to select a different player for last week’s MVP on the Giants, if you wish, but do not try and convince me that Pagan is not worthy of the award. Without him, the Giants are simply not in first place.