The other night (for whatever reason) I was watching MLB Hot Stove and Mitch Williams opened his mouth and I was expecting something stupid to be said, but instead he called Angel Pagan the most underrated player in Baseball. I was shocked that he said something smart and accurate.
Pagan rarely has gotten his due. Everyone has talked about his adventures on the bases at times in '09 or his inability to stay healthy. Pagan since the second half of '09 has been one of the mot valuable OFers in the game. He plays tremendous defense with seemingly limitless range. He has a pretty strong and accurate arm. Last year if not for Beltran's knee surgery he likely would be the 4th OFer and sitting while the vastly inferior Jeff Francoeur would play over him. The fans and the Francoeur loving media talked about Jeff's mythic grit and edge while deriding Pagan for his mental errors (which was overblown).
Well, Pagan came into the 2010 to prove his critics wrong and become a everyday player and stayed healthy. Well, Omar Minaya threw a road block in front of him in the form on an awful Gary Matthews Jr. He was only a road block because Jerry Manuel was dumb enough to play him over Pagan. GMJ Did nothing well and had a rather crappy career but it didn't matter.
Pagan didn't bitch or whine about it and when given the chance he never let the job go. He hit for avg, extra base power, stole bases, and was a great base runner (eliminating mistakes) and really was deserving of a GG and a case could be made that he deserved to be an All-star. He was also the teams best hitter with RISP. He was so good that when Beltran came back even Jerry Manuel figured out that Pagan deserved to play over Failcouer.
Considering how Beltran looked in CF last year you can make a very strong case that Beltran should move over to RF to take pressure off his knees. Pagan played far better D in CF than Beltran did last year. Pagan was relatively healthy last year and was a catalyst on the offensive and defensive end. He is all of 29 and in his prime and can get only better. Yes he does struggle vs lefties and really that's the only issue in his game. The only thing he needs is more attention for how good of a player he is.
One of the few reasons to be excited for 2011 as a Mets fan is Pagan and see him mature even more as a player. He is everything the media makes a guy like Shane Victorino out to be. They've had similar numbers the last few year except Victorino plays in a hitters haven and Pagan plays in a tough park to hit in. Pagan keeps playing like he has since the second half of '09 maybe he won't be so underrated but until then for once, Mitch Williams is right.