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Projecting Angel Pagan's 2015 season

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For the second straight year, Angel Pagan missed a huge chunk of time. Will it happen a third time?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time when this site was obsessed with something stupid. Not that time. Not that other time. Stop listing times. Specifically, there was a time when the Giants' record without Angel Pagan was notable. When Pagan played, the Giants won. When Pagan didn't play, the Giants lost. It was eerie as all get out, and it's not like you had to play around with the dates to make the correlation. They were 32-54 without him in 2013, and as soon as he was hurt in 2014, the Giants went from the best record in baseball to several games back in the West.

Then the Giants won the World Series without Angel Pagan.

Theory debunked! There was no glowing amulet in real life, just a carbon-based baseball player and his barky back. Pagan wasn't the magic glue that kept the team together; he was a solid-to-excellent player who was worth a couple extra wins every year. The Giants proved they could win without him, even if doing so was noticeably more difficult.

While that noticeably more difficult path helps with things like Xbox achievements and style points, it's not exactly ideal for maximizing wins in the coming season. A healthy, productive Pagan would be a godsend, pun absolutely intended. Here's what we know about the Giants' center fielder:

  • He's a steady, proven asset who hits for average, gets on base at a league-average rate or better, and runs the bases extremely well.

  • He'll be 34 in July

  • He's missed 157 games over the last two seasons

  • The Giants are better with him in the lineup

  • He probably won't be in the lineup as much as everyone wants

Pagan said this last week:

"I feel good, perfect, like never before," Pagan said about an hour before his first workout of the spring. "Right now I’m pain-free."

Four days later, his neck hurt. It was because he slept on it wrong, so it's probably inappropriate to use that as evidence he's injury-prone. Pagan scoffed at the notion, suggesting his injuries were all "bad luck." Of course he did. It's not like you're ever going to hear a player say something like ...

I'm a wreck. My body is in shambles. When I sneeze, my elbow hurts. When I yawn, my back goes out. When I pee, the kitchen lights dim. I will eventually be a pile of dust under a hat, and everyone will forget I ever existed.

... but it's hard to assign everything to bad luck. He's had freakish problems like colitis and a rib fracture, but he's also missed time because of his right hamstring, left shoulder, right elbow, oblique, right wrist, and back over the last six years. There's entropy going on every waking moment of his life. It's fair to wonder about his continued health.

That written, there was a prominent stathead a while ago -- though I'm completely incapable of remembering which one -- whose pet peeve was the notion that players could be noticeably injury-prone. It's possible, if not likely, that we're tethering unrelated events together, some of them complete random, and calling it a pattern. It's what the human brain does. There might indeed be injury-prone players, but believing we can point them all out because we know players' injury histories is a slippery slope. Think of them like clutch hitters -- they probably exist, but like heck am I going to listen to you tell me who they are.

So forget the injury history of Pagan if you want. Listen to the man himself. He feels great. I'll focus on just one bullet point, then.

  • He'll be 34 in July

And I'll give more than token consideration to this bullet point.

  • He's missed 157 games over the last two seasons

It's not great science to assume because x happened over the last two years, it's an unavoidable pattern, but it seems intuitive to believe that an aging baseball player with consecutive injury-marred seasons isn't a great candidate for 160 games this year.

Split the difference, then. This isn't a situation like Marco Scutaro, then, where the scuttlebutt coming out of camp was that he was in pain, so much pain, and unlikely to start the season on the roster. This is a somewhat older player with a few concerns, who says he feels fine. Here's what I projected for Pagan last year:

Angel Pagan

AB: 478
AVG: .281
OBP: .344
SLG: .408
HR: 11
SB: 22
CS: 7

And here's what he did:

AB: 383
AVG: .300
OBP: .342
SLG: .389
HR: 3
SB: 16
CS: 6

Now get out that old-timey calculator with the register tape and start taking away some of his positive stats, like a sketchy sales manager when you're trying to trade your old car in at the dealership. Let's see, that's minus 40 at-bats because of age, minus 20 points of batting average because of BABIP-related shenanigans, minus five stolen bases because you're pretty sure he was making smolder-eyes at your wife ... it adds up.

He'll still be a net positive for the team, though. With Blanco around, his scrapes and nicks won't mean as much as they did last year, when Morse went out.

Angel Pagan
AB: 439
AVG: .278
OBP: 331
SLG: .378
HR: 7
SB: 18
CS: 8

Still good. Still preferable to much of what the Giants could have bought on the open market for his salary. His defense will challenge the patience of fans and coaches alike, but it's worth noting that he looked fine last year in the field, getting solid reads and making most of the plays he was expected to. He'll be Pagan, just a little less so. You can predict end times because of injury concerns, but I'm going to straddle this here fence, as usual.