Enough About Angel Pagan's Baseball IQ

Apologies for straying from the Carlos Beltran imbroglio.

There are platitudes which seemingly must be re-hashed every time certain players are referenced in any form of media. Some examples:

Jose Reyes - As Reyes goes, the Mets go.

Jeff Francoeur - Gritty, full of potential and he actually gives a (expletive deleted), unlike those other loser Mets.

Daniel Murphy - Ditto Francoeur, but throw in something about a potential 2010 rebound and his questionable defensive acumen.

Mike Pelfrey - A head case. Can't shake the yips. Will he ever reach his potential? He's lawst!

It's generally annoying, especially when the bromide makes no sense. Like this for example:

Angel Pagan - Good player, but his poor baseball I.Q. severely limits his value.

This sentiment is not altogether baseless. Pagan made multiple mental errors this past season, and those semi-major mistakes stuck in the minds of Mets fans. It's the phenomenon of letting high profile events shape one's perception of a player; it's the ultimate small sample size abuse. Matt Holliday's nad-catch, Carlos Beltran vs. Adam Wainwright, Daniel Murphy's outfield adventures, Derek Jeter's flip-play in Oakland -- these are examples of such events. Nevermind that Holliday is a perfectly capable fielder; that Beltran's numbers have been as good, or better, in clutch situations than his overall numbers; that Murphy might have value as a utility player who can handle himself capably in the outfield; that Jeter is basically the same great player in clutch situations as he is in all situations.

Back to Pagan. His misadventures have some fans "less worried about [his] health, and more worried about boneheaded plays that costs them [the Mets] runs/games" and lamenting being "stuck with Pagan." Of course it would be preferable if Pagan didn't make those mistakes -- that is indisputable. But the notion that his purported mental deficiencies should preclude him from playing over lesser players is laughable. Heck, Pagan just might have been the Mets most valuable position player in 2009 and he only played 88 games. By my calculation, he was 2nd in WAR only to David Wright. WAR isn't infallible and he likely played over his head last season, but that time Pagan forgot to run to 2nd base didn't drive down his value to the point where one would prefer to play Jeremy Reed in his stead.

Various baserunning statistics portray Pagan as above average. The numbers would probably be even better without the brainfarts, but objectively he is a more valuable baserunner than most of the current Mets. He might sometimes take an odd route to a fly ball but he rates above average defensively. He also rarely makes errors, if that's how you measure defensive ability. This might sound like an endorsement of playing sloppy baseball as long as talent can compensate for the paucity of fundamentals. It isn't. It's just a request of Mets fans to stop bringing up Pagan's allegedly poor intelligence, as if it's on par with being bad at baseball. Especially when a certain starting outfielder, who is generally more highly regarded than Pagan, had his share of mishaps last season. Also, the grittiest, guttiest player in the NL East threw his hands up to signal ground-rule double in a game back in August (Not knowing the ground rules? Brain malfunction of the year!), leading to an inside-the-park home run by none other than Mr. Pagan. There are an infinite number of anecdotal examples but the point has been made.

Would it be nice if Pagan and the Mets played more mentally and fundamentally sound baseball? Yes, of course. But the same could be said by fans of every team in MLB. No player is flawless. Except Mike Cameron. Let's build a time machine and sign Cameron.

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