With Angel Pagan, the San Francisco Giants are scintillating, an offensive threat and world beaters. Without, they are a lacklustre offensive outfit searching for inspiration and struggling to score runs – which is exactly why they must entertain offers for the centre fielder this offseason.
The impact Pagan has on the lineup is clear to see. With the leadoff hitter, the Giants are 57-39, without they are 31-39. However, there may be more than what meets the eye. The inferior offensive production of Gregor Blanco can be known to cloud judgement.
The leadoff spot is a truly unique spot in the order. Unlike the 2-7 spots, which are effectively quite transposable, batting first is a completely different task. It requires a certain skill-set and a certain mind-sight. Sadly, the Giants don’t have anyone, other than Angel, who can actually lead a game off efficiently.
While Blanco may have the tools of a leadoff hitter – good eye, good speed, some gap power and a knack for getting on base – he has never been successful at the top of the order. It is very plausible that the lack of a replacement for the fragile Pagan only amplifies, exaggerates and magnifies the effect Pagan has on the Giants.
With an important spot in the order, must come an important player. A lack of an important player in this role will evidently have a large knock-on effect on the team. While Pagan is most certainly an offensive catalyst and a crucial hitter, there is nothing to say that if the Giants invest in another number one hitter, they won’t be able to replicate his brilliant production.
It surely seems an odd theory to advocate the trading of such a crucial player, but with his ever apparent injuries that seem to constantly nag him, it is actually a plausible idea. As discussed above, the Giants are bad without Pagan theory is merely a fallacy. A lack of replacement production is the only reason this theory has been amplified so much.
Hence, it would be only wise for the Giants to search for a new catalyst. One who can play almost everyday. While Angel did hit .300, with a .347 OBP, scoring 56 runs and swiping 16 bases, he only played in 96 games. That makes it two years on a bounce that Pagan hasn’t even made it to 100 games. When a player has such a profound impact on a team, playing in under 100 games isn’t acceptable. A replacement must be sought for.
An undeniably ambitious and audacious, yet fairly achievable trade is to move for the Washington Nationals’ Denard Span. If and when Span and the Nationals trigger his option for the season ahead, he will only have one year left on his contract, obviously. Pagan, on the other hand still has a very affordable two years left on his deal. Two very similar players, yes.
Many Giants fans, however, would argue Pagan is a superior player, and they aren’t far wrong. Match that, with his extra year on his contract and it may allow the Nationals to get past his injury issues. After all, many teams are willing to take risks on players these days – look no further than the Giants, themselves, acquiring Michael Morse to fill the left field void this season.
The deal is a nice one, which would surely please both Nationals and Giants fans, maybe the latter particularly. There is one problem, however. Pagan is a serious fan favourite, the people in San Francisco do love him. Which begs the question: Can the Giants afford to keep Pagan, despite his injury history? Yes.
What most people don’t realise is that while Pagan is viewed as a prototypical leadoff hitter, he could actually thrive in the middle of the lineup. Having Angel, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford in the middle to bottom of the order is very dangerous. Yet more, it allows the Giants to search for a new left fielder, who can leadoff.
This theory is the best option for the Giants. They get to keep their catalyst, fan favourite, saluting centre fielder. It softens the potential loss of Morse in left, bulks the middle of the order, and takes a huge pressure off Pagan to stay healthy. It really is a win, win.