Your 2015 Giants: Pagan Putting uP Pain Pagain

Once again, Pagan hits the 15-day DL, re-injuring his left hamstring again, which had costed him (and especially us) 11 games previously.

ogc thoughts

Ugh, don't you hate this?  What do you all think?  I'm looking forward to his contract being over.  As much as I like him as a player, his proneness to injury has been frustrating.  Unlike Bonds, Pagan seems to have never understood that there are limits he should obey, going all out just injures him, which injures his team's chances of winning, and thus our chances of getting into the playoffs.

Seriously, why didn't the Giants just DL him the first time too?  Bochy said it was a no-brainer to DL him this time, because it was the same injury, but, really, it is an issue he has had his entire career.  And they went through this with Durham, you think they would have learned to bite the bullet, the second time, shame on you Giants, it has been four years of this, Parker could have been up for 11 games while Pagan was sitting, nursing his injury, instead of the Giants playing short-handed.  They were 6-5 in the games he missed during that period.

Plus, even when he came back, he was horrible.  He only had a .393 OPS during that period, and the team averaged 2.56 runs per game with him in the lineup (but the team went 8-1 because of the starting pitching).   The team averaged 3.7 runs per game during the 11 games he was out, which is low, but right now, I think many would take that over the recent bad offense.   I would estimate that his poor hitting was responsible for at least half of that drop in offense.   The Giants would have been much better off DLing him once he was hurt, and a prospect (or Tomlinson) could have been getting all the AB's over those 20 games Pagan missed or did poorly in.

The good news is that this gives more opportunity to our prospects, particularly Jarrett Parker, since he is up right now.   And I expect Pagan to go down again later in the season, which could give Williamson an opportunity again.  And, unfortunately, Pence is becoming old, reaching that stage too, his hammy has been barking too, so that might also present opportunities for our prospects (but hopefully not).   Plus, who knows how long Pagan will be out, this is his second bout with the hamstring this season, he could be out for much longer than the 15-day DL.

Pagan Has Hit Well Though, Overall

His .338 OBP is pretty good.  The average OBP in the NL is only .321. The average OBP for hitters in the 3 to 6 positions in the lineup is .334, so he is up there with middle lineup hitters. It is not as high as leadoff hitters, which is at .349, but he's not a leadoff hitter now. And only leadoff and #3 hitters have a higher OBP on average, he would be above average in any other batting position.  

So him hitting 9th was actually very good for our offense, particularly since Span hasn't started hitting yet, so he's been partially a bust so far (lack of power has killed his SLG and OPS), though he at least has a .354 OBP, which is the main component of his job.   He appears to have reached that point in his career (older players suddenly find religion in walks at some point, if they are still playing) where he has upped his walks, and given he didn't strike out much before, his BB/K ratio is roughly 1.0, which is the mark of a good hitter, and thus, most likely, his .286 BABIP (career .320 BABIP before this season) is more a factor of bad luck than a decline in batting skills, though it is possible he is working more walks because he realized that he's not hitting as well.  Perhaps someone reading knows how to analyze a hitter in this way, regarding hard hit vs. soft hit balls.

In any case, for Pagan, .338 OBP is a good rate, it is above average, both in the NL and for most batting positions, and his .722 OPS would be good in any lower lineup batting positions, great for the #8/9 positions he has been batting in.  If he had enough to qualify, his OBP would be in the top 85-90 hitters in the majors, which makes him a Top 3 hitter (if players were assigned a team from high OBP to low, he would be in the third round of player assignments), which is more good than bad.  He's fine in the lineup when healthy.

But Lets Stop the "Giants Can Only Win with Pagan" Talk

Plus the Giants have done well with him (20-14 in his starts) as well as without him (10-5).  I never cared much when the beat writers would jump all over how well the Giants did with him in the lineup vs. without.  Not that I doubted his value, but the major reason that the Giants tanked without him in those instances was because he generally (partly because he was so injury prone) was the first injury among many others following, and the reason the team didn't do so well without him was because they were not just without him, but also Scutaro, Crawford, Belt, and there were many others.

Plus his replacement had his ups and downs.  People forget, but after that first injury long ago running around the bases for an inside the park homer, Blanco took over and he hit even better than what Pagan was hitting (Pagan was actually holding the team back up to that point, I think his OPS was in the high 600's) and the Giants did well in that first month or so without Pagan.  Then the injuries kept on piling up, and at some point, Blanco started pressing (that has been his Achilles Heel in baseball, when the pressure is on, he stops playing his game and hits poorly), and that was another cement anchor added to the team's lagging offense in mid-2013.

Teams Win With DOM Starts

As I've been trying to show over the years, it is dominant, well-pitched games that win games for teams, offense or no offense.  We have seen it over and over here with the Giants, even with poor offense, when you got great pitching, you can win a lot of games.  We saw it from 2009-2012, and we are seeing it again this season.  And if it is dominant games that win games, any team should want starting pitchers who can throw a lot of DOM starts every season.  You want good pitchers like that.

There is a wide spread in good pitchers, ranging from 40's DOM% to 70's+ DOM%.  As we have seen this season, it makes a huge difference having 70+ DOMs than 40's DOMs.  Our Big 3 are all currently at 80% DOM.  Because there is only 100% to distribute between DOM, MID, and DIS, the closer DOM gets to 100%, it also greatly reduces the odds of DIS start too, which is where a SP ERA gets blown up, so advantages accrue as a pitcher gets better at throwing dominant games.

This period reminds me of the end of 2010, when we ran off a stretch of 20+ games where the team's pitching did not give up more than 3 or 4 runs (don't remember which; perhaps there were two such streaks involving those two numbers).   The only difference is that I believe that we can continue this indefinitely, that this is the skill level for these pitchers.  If that does happen, we will run away with the division and win in the 95-100 games range, or perhaps better if the offense kicks in (Duffy has been hurting the team).