Statistics that prove your point even while seeming fallacious are usually accurate 100 percent of the time. Case in point:
2013 Giants with Angel Pagan on the roster: 44-34
2013 Giants without Angel Pagan: 32-54
The first team won at the rate of a 91-win team. The second one was the equivalent of a 100-loss team. Now I'm not saying Pagan is worth 27 wins over a full season on his own. I'm just strongly implying it with my deceptive statistics. I'd like to hear another explanation for that kind of disparity. Sample size? Random occurrence? Please. Pagan is the water that makes the Giants' capsule turn into a vaguely dinosaur-shaped sponge. He's important.
And right around May 24, I would have voided his contract with a magic wand if I had that power. He wasn't hitting for average or power, and he was playing the clumsiest, bumblingest, Keystone Cops center field that I've ever seen. He made Marvin Benard look like Darren Lewis. It wasn't a Giants game unless either Pagan or Andres Torres was stuck to a cactus, throwing the ball into the bay.
Then there was the greatest single at-bat for the Giants in 2013.
It was easy to get hyperbolic at the time, but with a little time for reflection, I don't feel weird admitting that was one of my favorite Giants moments ever. As in, since I've been a fan. Playoffs, regular season, doesn't matter. Maybe there will be time to do a 64-moment bracket one of these days, and while this wouldn't exactly be a high seed, it would have upset potential. Inside-the-park home runs are automatically awesome. And this one didn't require a lumbering lummox diving and missing a catch six feet from where the ball bounced.
Also, it turned a loss to the Rockies into a win in about eight seconds.
It was the best moment of the season, other than the last out of the no-hitter. Truly scintillating. Then Pagan died on the way back to his home planet, and the Giants' season went into the toilet.
And the injury meant we got a long time to think about Pagan's first two months of ineffectiveness, and how there were three years left on the deal. The malleted finger of Marco Scutaro was mostly unexpected, so it's hard to say told-you-so about the risks of signing a late-30s second baseman. But Pagan has always been a finely tuned sports car that always seemed to be in the shop. When his hamstring sproinged, it didn't exactly come as a surprise. That's a bad sign with three years left.
Then the Giants were rushing Pagan back for some reason, telling everyone he was going to play in September. For what? For whom? How did that make sense? Why risk a re-sproinging? Oh, Giants.
Except after he came back, he was fantastic, hitting .323/.376/.495 with two homers, two triples, and six doubles in 101 plate appearances. The strangest thing was that his defense seemed much improved, too. At least, it didn't seem noticeably worse than it was last year, which was the case for April and May. There were scary stories about the procedure necessary to get Pagan back on the field, yet he didn't seem slower at all. The burst was there on infield singles and triples alike. It was the best-case scenario all around.
We predicted better things for Pagan before last year, just like we predicted better things for the Giants:
Angel Pagan (projected)
SB: 32 (six caught)
Reasonable. But here's what he did:
Angel Pagan (actual)
SB: 9 (four caught)
Pretty much what we expected. But about half of it.
The good news is this is the most time Pagan has ever missed with a leg problem. The bad news is that he's missing a tendon now, which seems important. But do you think that Pagan would get a guaranteed $30.75 million in this market? Oh, yeah. Marlon Byrd just got $16 million, and he's a 36-year-old corner outfielder coming off a hard-to-believe season. People would pay for Pagan, still. He isn't an albatross yet.
But ask me that question if he didn't have the September he had, and I might disagree. It's funny how much one month's worth of at-bats (or fielding attempts) can mess with you, even if you're looking for small samples because you think you're so danged smart. Pagan is probably going to be Pagan next year. The only question is how much Pagan that'll be.
Hopefully a lot. It would have been a lot cooler if the Giants had won 91 games. Look at those stats after the first paragraph! Prove them wrong, stat dorks!