This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
Angel Pagan is a sparkplug.
He provides so much energy for the San Francisco Giants as their center fielder and leadoff hitter, and he was a significant contributor to their World Series win last season. However, Pagan’s current situation could significantly impact the Giants for the rest of the season.
Pagan initially strained his left hamstring on May 25th when he scored an incredible inside-the-park home run to walk-off against the Colorado Rockies.
Pagan recently aggravated his strained left hamstring while on a rehab assignment with the San Jose Giants. An MRI done on Saturday revealed that Pagan actually has a small tear in his left hamstring.
Because of this, Pagan has elected to have surgery to repair the torn hamstring, and he will be sidelined for 12 weeks.
This could significantly impact the Giants’ chances of winning the NL West. The Giants have already experienced a multitude of injuries to other key players on their roster, such as Marco Scutaro, Ryan Vogelsong, Santiago Casilla, and Pablo Sandoval.
Scutaro is playing through his injury and both Casilla and Sandoval are expected back soon, but given Pagan’s energy and enthusiasm, the Giants will surely miss his presence on and off the field.
In 46 games this season, Pagan is batting .262 with three home runs and 24 RBI. He also has walked 15 times.
Pagan truly is their sparkplug on offense. He’s an effective leadoff hitter given his ability to steal bases, run the bases aggressively and efficiently, and get on base by getting a hit or taking a walk. Pagan is also able to stretch out a hit and gain an extra base because of his speed, since he can score from second on a single and score from first on a double.
In addition, Pagan scored 95 runs last year for the Giants and he led MLB with 15 triples, so he is clearly the best option as the leadoff hitter for the Giants.
However, in his absence, Gregor Blanco has really stepped up and shown that he can more than adequately fill in for Pagan in the leadoff spot. First of all, Blanco is versatile. He can play all three outfield spots extremely well.
Second, Blanco has been on a tear recently on offense. In the month of June, Blanco is hitting .373 with one home run and 10 RBI’s in 75 at-bats. He also has a .413 OBP and a .533 slugging percentage. Overall, Blanco is hitting .302 with one home run, 26 RBI, and has a .354 OBP and a .401 slugging percentage.
“He can contribute in any way, it’s really good to see,” Pagan said about Blanco. “That’s how good teams go through bad weather, guys like Gregor getting it done and stepping up.”
Andres Torres has been a little streaky on offense, but for the season, he’s hitting .269 with two home runs and 16 RBI’s. Also, Juan Perez got off to an amazing start with the Giants, but he’s cooled off a little since his major league debut. He’s still hitting a respectable .300 though in 30 at-bats though.
The Giants will definitely miss Pagan on offense and his effectiveness in the leadoff spot, but given Blanco’s recent production, the Giants must feel a little more comfortable.
However, twelve weeks without Pagan is a long time, so everyone on the Giants will have to step up, not just Blanco. Since Pagan will be gone until September, Blanco, as well as Torres and Perez, will have to maintain consistency throughout the rest of the season.
Pagan’s absence won’t be missed as much on the defensive end. Defensively, he is arguably the fourth-best center fielder on the Giants behind Blanco, Perez, and Torres. These three players have been able to display their defensive prowess while Pagan has been out, so the Giants shouldn’t be concerned missing Pagan’s defense.
Pagan is a leader in the clubhouse because of his passion and enthusiasm for the game. He’s an extremely hard worker who sets a good example for the younger players on how to work hard and play the game the right way. His energy gets the team excited and pumped up for each game, so the Giants will definitely miss him for that.
Unfortunately, Pagan has been labeled as injury-prone throughout his career. He has only played more than 125 games in a season twice in his seven-year career.
The Giants were aware of this situation though when they signed him to a 4-year, $40 million contract in the the offseason. This could be considered a risky move given his history of injuries, but Pagan has been a solid force for the Giants since he signed here.
On the defensive end, the Giants won’t miss him as much because they have a trio of center fielders who are extremely talented defensively.
Offensively, it remains to be seen how much Pagan’s absence will affect the Giants, because it depends on Blanco keeping up his impressive hitting.
The Giants will miss Pagan most in terms of the energy he provides for this team. His “never give up” attitude and his determination to win are hard to replace.