Angel Pagan has been off to a dreadful start, and there is no debating that. Pagan has not only batted under .170 so far, but he has also lacked the clutch hitting that the Mets relied on so heavily last season. With such a slow start in 2011, it begs the question we are reluctant to ask: Was 2010 just a fluke for Pagan?
In 2010, the 29-year old Puerto Rican native began the season as a 4th outfielder, a backup to Gary Matthews Jr. in center. Instead of complaining and feeling downtrodden, Pagan put his head down and took every opportunity to prove himself and earn his stripes. Pagan would climb over not only Matthews, but Francoeur and most recently this spring, even Beltran. Pagan would finish the year with a .290 average, 37 stolen bases and 31 doubles.
It appears that Pagan performs best when he had to secure, win or regain a starting job. Now that he has a job and it is his to lose, Pagan is not playing at the level he had last season. Is it possible Pagan is just not as motivated now that he doesn’t have as much to prove?
Or is it that he is just off to a slow start? It is hard to tell. Pagan doesn’t look like the same player as he was in 2010. His base running in 2011 is more reminiscent of his lackadaisical 2009 campaign on the base path rather that his heads-up play in 2010. This was most evident in last night’s game where Pagan, representing the tying run in the 8th inning, was thrown out at home following a wild pitch.
Pagan seemed in 2010 to be developing into the type of player that could be relied upon for great defense, heads-up plays and clutch, late in the game hitting. But now nearly 20 games into 2011, Pagan does not look anything like he did last year.
I personally thought Pagan should have been traded this winter. The Mets probably could have gotten a nice return from a team that lost out on Crawford. Teams tend to overpay when they do not get their plan A in the off season so the timing could have worked in the Mets favor. But that is in the past, what matters now is that at least for the time being, Pagan is under the Mets control and unless he regains whatever he found in 2010, he could be looking at either being traded or non-tendered before Opening Day of 2012.