How Will Angel Pagan’s Return Impact the Giants?
The injury bug has hit the San Francisco Giants‘ clubhouse hard in recent months, but the Giants could be getting a boost to their lineup today in the form of their resident spark plug: Angel Pagan.
Pagan has been on the DL since August 11th (retroactive to August 10th) with right patella tendinitis, also known as a sore right knee. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right knee to help the recovery process. He has dealt with several injuries this season, including a sore left knee earlier in the season.
Pagan was eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday, but Bruce Bochy wanted to make sure he completed a rehab assignment before returning to the team. Pagan played a rehab game in Arizona on Sunday and played with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento Rivercats, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday, he hit leadoff and started in center field for the Rivercats, and he went 2-for-3 with two singles, two walks, and two runs scored. On Wednesday, Pagan recorded one hit in four at-bats, and he scored a run for the Rivercats.
Pagan is supposed to be activated today if all goes to plan, but it remains to be seen if he will automatically be named a full-time starter.
Bochy spoke about this with Alex Pavlovic of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area:
“We’ll see where we’re at,” Bochy said. “We’ll try to keep them all involved. With Angel, we’ll see how his knees are doing.”
Pagan’s ability to stay healthy for the duration of the season will determine his status as a starter on the team. He will most likely resume starting duties for the most part, but he could see some of his starts go to Justin Maxwell if his knees start to act up again.
When healthy, Pagan is a key ingredient to this Giants team. He provides steady defense at the center field position, he has the ability to hit leadoff (even though Nori Aoki will be the likely leadoff hitter), he provides speed on the base paths, and he brings a high level of infectious energy to the Giants’ lineup no matter what spot he hits in. He has good at-bats, and he comes through in the clutch.
If healthy, Pagan could have an impact in all of those ways for the Giants. However, if not fully healthy, he could continue to have a somewhat disappointing season.
Pagan is hitting just .258 this season (he’s a career .280 hitter) with no home runs and just 26 RBI in 102 games. His on-base percentage this season is down to .290, and his on-base percentage for his career is .329. His slugging percentage is also down this season to .308, and his slugging percentage for his career is .406.
Part of the reason Pagan has struggled this season is because of his injury troubles. He has been somewhat “injury-plagued” throughout his career, and he truly can be a completely different, more impactful player when healthy.
His lack of home runs this season is somewhat surprising, given the fact that he has a little pop in his bat, but this, again, can be attributed to his injuries. He’s never been known as a power hitter, but in 2012 when he played 154 games for the Giants, he hit eight home runs during the regular season.
Pagan’s knee pain must be linked to his lack of power this season, so if his knees are truly feeling better and are relatively pain-free, Pagan could see a bump in the home run category and in his slugging percentage. This would give him some extra confidence in the batter’s box and could spark the Giants’ offense even more.
Given the overall health of the Giants right now, the team could use Pagan in their lineup, whether he’s fully healthy or not and if he’s starting full-time or not. The Giants’ health is the main aspect standing between them and the postseason right now, so getting some of their starters back and healthy is the first step they need to take in order to make a strong push towards the playoffs.
Pagan represents the first wave of those steps that the Giants need to take. Once Pagan comes back, that’ll boost the offense a little. Once Joe Panik comes back, that’ll boost the offense a little more. Once Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy get fully healthy, the offense will get even stronger. The Giants are taking baby steps right now towards a fully healthy roster, and Pagan coming off the DL is the first step in the right direction.
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