NY Sports Dog: The Stats Say: Bat Angel Pagan Second

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Stats Say: Bat Angel Pagan Second

Met nation breathed a huge sigh of relief when medical personnel cleared Jose Reyes for baseball activities yesterday.

There is little doubt that Reyes will be ready for opening day, and there should be little doubt that he belongs in his rightful spot at the top of the order.  We can see about batting him 3rd next year.

Though Luis Castillo batted second for much of last year, it's Angel Pagan who truly belongs there, and all numbers point to that fact.  He is superior to Castillo, and every other Met, and what I'll call "2 hole statistical indicators of excellence."

Despite this, Manuel batted Pagan second for a grand total of 11 at-bats in 2009. Remember, Jerry is not a math guy.

Let's look at those indicators of excellence.

People who favor Castillo in the #2 hole point to the number of pitches he takes, but looking at the numbers, he's not all that different from Pagan.

Last year Castillo saw 4.23 pitches per plate appearance to 3.82 for Pagan.  Moreover, as a casual observer it seems that Castillo takes more pitches when there is no one on base when he tries to work walks.  He also takes too many pitches at times when there are men on base instead of jumping on an early fastball to move runners over.  We'll see next how this shows up in the stats.

When there are runners on, the 2 hole batter is truly there to move them along, hopefully all the way home.  One of the stats that shows how they fared in this capacity is the percentage of baserunners that scored.

Last year baserunners scored 13% of the time during Castillo at-bats, and that number jumped up to 18% for Pagan.  I'm sure you all had a few "Castillo moments" last year watching him take good pitches for strikes, or ground weakly or hit a soft liner that couldn't advance a runner...this stat partially shows the results of those feeble at-bats.

Pagan also led Castillo in Productive Outs (advancing or driving in a runner)--Pagan did this 44% of the time to 43% for Castillo. 

Well what about ability to sacrifice?  We know Castillo is a great bunter, but the numbers show that Pagan was at least as successful.  Pagan may not have the artistry that Castillo has in this department, but last year he was successful 71% of the time compared to 70% for Castillo.

Warning--opinion ahead--I think Castillo bunts way too much.  There are times when a sac fly or swinging away is a much better option, especially as it can also lead to a hit, but with Castillo, Jerry seems over-inclined to give up an out with a bunt, even in the first inning.

Pagan was outstanding last year with runners in scoring position.  He batted .342 with a 1.004 OPS.  Castillo, on the other hand, hit .325 with RISP, but his OPS was only .774, meaning he was not nearly as productive as Pagan in this department.  To be fair, Castillo was certainly OK, but Pagan was simply great.

The last number we'll look at is double plays.

In 2009 Luis Castillo grounded into 15 double plays in 93 double play opportunities for a 16% clip (that number was 22% in 2008).  This is pretty awful for a 2 hole hitter.  Pagan, on the other hand, grounded into only 3 double plays in 35 opportunities, a 9% clip, and his career average is 5%.

OK Jerry--you have your leadoff hitter back, and your #2 hitter....let's play ball!

(and don't forget the idea of Reyes and Pagan hitting back to back triples...I'd rather see that than three homeruns in a row)

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Mets4evr said...

This is a steller piece. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Manuel can pull a LaRussa until Beltran gets back and bat Castillo 9th, following the pitcher. It pretty much makes him the leadoff hitter after the first go around. And the starting pitcher doesn't really get extra at bats, at least not something that shows up much. It's probably like one extra at bat a week. And in this day and age, the pitcher is only getting like 2 ABs a game anyway. After that, it's like a DH the rest of the game. It's worth a try until Beltran comes back.

Dave Singer said...

I would simply bat Castillo 8th.


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