San Francisco Giants fragile spark-plug Angel Pagan was a catalyst for the orange and black in their 2012 title run, but he missed a majority of last season with a serious hamstring injury. The Giants’ energetic lead-off hitter led the big leagues with 15 triples in 2012, recording a .440 slugging percentage in 605 at-bats.
The “Crazy Horse” played in just 71 games for the Giants last season, though, disabling an offense largely reliant upon production at the top of the lineup. Pagan is a table-setter, aiding the Giants’ run production by constantly getting on base. He owns a career .333 on-base percentage while maintaining a respectable .756 OPS.
Pagan needs to stay healthy next season if the Giants are going to greatly improve upon an offense that ranked near the bottom of the big leagues in most major categories, like runs scored and slugging percentage.
Pagan’s season-crippling hamstring injury derailed the Giants’ World Series defense and exposed their depleted bench depth. Speedy outfielder Gregor Blanco was forced to adopt a greater role in the wake of Pagan’s absence. Blanco was marginally effective in the lead-off spot while manning center field as he posted a .265 batting average with 26 extra-base hits in 452 at-bats.
Slotting Blanco in the everyday starting lineup forced manager Bruce Bochy to rely upon several unseasoned prospects off the bench in situations. The result was ugly for San Francisco, who struggled to effectively move runners over in situational at-bats and eventually drive them in. The Giants greatly missed Pagan’s fiery impact at the top of the lineup in 2013.
The 32-year-old Puerto Rican native had surgery to repair a partially torn hamstring. The Giants seem optimistic that Pagan will be able to stay healthy in 2014, but the wear and tear of a 162 game season could ultimately take its toll on a player entirely dependent upon his legs.
Pagan is an aggressive outfielder who constantly puts forth 100-percent effort. He owns a solid .983 career fielding percentage, exemplifying the “full throttle” style of gameplay that parallels Hunter Pence. The Giants need their spark-plug to rekindle the extraordinary type of success he enjoyed in 2012 when he recorded a .288 batting average with 29 stolen bases in 154 games.
If Pagan is able to stay healthy throughout the 2014 campaign, the Giants have a tremendous chance to reassert themselves as contenders in the wide-open National League.