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Ángel Pagán

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Angel Anthony Pagan
(Crazy Horse)

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Scouted by Gary LaRocque, Outfielder Angel Pagan was the 4th-round pick of the New York Mets in the 1999 amateur draft. When the two parties failed to come to terms, Pagan played in community college for a year, then signed with the Mets a day before they would have lost rights to him. He debuted with the 2000 Kingsport Mets and hit .361/.410/.458 with six steals in seven tries in 19 games.

In 2001, Angel hit .298/.365/.351 in 15 outings with the Capital City Bombers but spent most of the year with the Brooklyn Cyclones (.315/.388/.374, 30 for 48 in SB). He led the New York-Penn League in times caught stealing while tying Chris Duffy for the league stolen base lead. Pagan made the NYPL All-Star team in the outfield and Baseball America rated him the league's #14 prospect. In 2002, Pagan had a .279/.325/.338 line for the Bombers and stole 52 in 73 tries. With the St. Lucie Mets, he hit .343/.405/.448 in 16 games and stole 10 of 12. He was fifth in the minor leagues in steals overall. The next season, the 21/22-year-old struggled in St. Lucie, only hitting .249/.307/.313 and being thrown out in 15 of 50 steal attempts.

The 2004 season brought Angel to AA, where he had a good year for the Binghamton Mets (.288/.346/.406, 29 SB, only 5 times caught). In 2005, the outfielder was a stop shy of the majors, batting .271/.333/.395 for the AAA Norfolk Tides. He fanned 111 times and was caught 15 times in 42 tries to steal but did leg out 10 triples. He tied Tony Pena Jr. for the International League lead in times caught stealing.

The Chicago Cubs purchased Pagan's contract from New York that winter. He played seven games in the minors for Chicago but spent most of the year as a backup corner outfielder and pinch-hitter, batting .247/.306/.394 in 2006. Pagan hit .250/.310/.414 in 33 games for the Iowa Cubs in 2007 with 6 steals in 7 tries then was called up when Félix Pie was sent down. He hit .264/.306/.439 in 71 games for the Cubs. Angel returned to the Mets that off-season in a deal for Corey Coles and Ryan Meyers. He was limited by injury in 2008 and batted .275/.346/.374 while seeing some rehab action in the minors.

For the Mets in 2009, Angel had his best season up to that point, batting .306/.350/.487 with 11 triples as a back-up who played in 88 games, filling in at center field for Carlos Beltran when he was injured. Despite his part-time role, he was 4th in the National League in three-baggers behind Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Michael Bourn. Pagan became a starter in center in 2010 and was hitting .286/.354/.429 after 42 games. On May 19th, he hit an inside-the-park homer and started a triple play in the same game. It had been 55 years since Ted Kazanski was the last performer to accomplish both feats in the same contest. He hit .290/.340/.425 in 151 games that season, with 31 doubles, 7 triples and 11 homers, scoring 80 runs and driving in 69, for an OPS+ of 108. For the year, he tied for 8th in the National League in triples, was second in steals (15 behind leader Bourn) and tied for third in outfield assists (one behind Jeff Francoeur and Victorino).

His 2011 season was less productive however, as he fell to .262 /.322/.372 in 123 games, with 24 doubles and 7 homers and an OPS+ of 94. He was second in the NL in outfield errors (10, trailing only Justin Upton) and was 8th in steals (32, between Ryan Braun and Jason Bourgeois).

Angel was traded to the San Francisco Giants in return for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres before the 2012 season and had a great year as the Giants' center fielder. He led the NL with 15 triples, to go along with 38 doubles and 8 homers, hit .288 in 154 games, scored 95 runs and drove in 56 as the team's lead-off hitter. His speed was still excellent, as he stole 29 bases after swiping 37 and 32 in his last two seasons as a Met. In addition to triples, he was among the league leaders in runs (tied for 7th with Matt Holliday and Chase Headley), doubles (10th) and outfield putouts (377, 2nd, 6 behind Bourn). He got to play in the postseason for the first time, going 3 for 20 in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, but with a homer, 3 runs and 4 RBI, and 8 for 33 with another homer in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. He had a key hit in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers on October 24th. With two outs in 3rd and the Giants leading 1-0, he hit a soft liner against Justin Verlander that took a lucky bounce off the third base bag and caromed off it for a double. He then scored on Marco Scutaro's single and Pablo Sandoval followed with his second homer of the game, giving the Giants a quick 4-0 lead on their way to an 8-3 win. After the season, he re-signed with the Giants for four years and $40 million.

Pagán was the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Puerto Rican national team that surprisingly finished second in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He performed well, hitting .364/.447/.485 with a team-high 12 hits, 16 total bases, 2 steals and 5 walks (tied with Carlos Beltran). He led the team in average, slugging and OBP, yet only had two runs and two RBI in 9 games. He scored the first run off Ryan Vogelsong in the 4-3 upset of Team USA. In the finale, a 3-0 loss to the Dominican Republic, he was 1 for 3 with a walk but his teammates combined for just two other hits. He was second in the Classic in hits, 3 behind MVP Robinson Canó, and tied Elvis Andrus, Yulieski Gourriel, Yoshio Itoi and Adam Jones for second in steals, one behind Randolph Oduber. He made the Classic All-Star team, joining Michael Saunders and Nelson Cruz in the outfield.

On May 25, 2013, Pagan became the first player in 9 years to end a game with an inside-the-park walk-off homer, and the first in Giants history to do so. The Colorado Rockies had taken a 5-4 lead against the Giants on Troy Tulowitzki's solo homer in the top of the 10th, but Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the inning by drawing a walk off Rafael Betancourt. Guillermo Quiroz sacrificed Crawford to second base, and Pagan followed by hitting a ball to deep right field at AT&T Park, which hit the fence and then bounced away from the rightfielder towards center field. Pagan rounded the bases as CF Dexter Fowler chased the ball and relayed it back to home plate, sliding ahead of the tag to give the Giants a spectacular 6-5 win. Fellow Puerto Rican Rey Sanchez had been the last to accomplish the feat in the major leagues, coincidentally also in the 10th inning and also against the Rockies, while a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 11, 2004. However, he had apparently hurt his hamstring earlier in the game, and did not play after hitting his dramatic homer, eventually going on the disabled list. He then re-injured the hamstring while playing a rehabilitation game with the Class A Stockton Ports on June 20th, and this time had to undergo surgery, putting the remainder of his season in doubt, but he did come back in the last days of August and played regularly in September, finishing at .282 with 5 homers and 30 RBI in 71 games.

2014 was another injury-plagued season for Pagan as he was again limited to fewer than 100 games due to a bad back which required late-season surgery to repair a bulging disk. As a result, he played his last game on September 19th and was not available for the home stretch with the Giants battling for a postseason slot. In 96 games, he hit an even .300 with 3 homers and 27 RBI, but did score 56 runs and was successful in 16 of 22 stolen base attempts. It was his third straight year with an OPS+ of 110 or better.

Main Sources: 2000-2006 Baseball Almanacs

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