Should Mets keep Davis over Pagan?

Posted on July 9, 2010 by

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The latest rumors have Cliff Lee going to the Yankees. But even though the Mets may miss out on the top pitcher, there are still other pitchers worth acquiring who are having their names floated out on the trade market. But I am less concerned here with whom the Mets get. Instead, I am concerned about who they might give up to get a starting pitcher.

Two names that were mentioned in the Cliff Lee discussions were Ike Davis and Angel Pagan. The Mets basically came out and said that Davis wasn’t going anywhere. But they were curiously silent about Pagan.

On the surface, that makes sense. While both have played well this season, the Mets have Carlos Beltran on the verge of returning and Fernando Martinez, while not tearing things up at Triple-A, is one of the team’s top prospects. And with the season-ending injury to Daniel Murphy, the Mets have no major league-ready first baseman to replace Davis should he be dealt. Mike Jacobs is the starting first baseman in Triple-A and the club should have little interest in a second stint with Jacobs as their starter. In Double-A is Nick Evans, who the club does not see as a starting-caliber (or even bench caliber, for some reason) major leaguer.

But let’s look at the production that the Mets have received this year from Davis and Pagan.

ID — .257/.333/.426 in 297 PA. 10 HR, 42 R, 39 RBIs, 1 SB
AP – .306/.363/.458 in 316 PA. 6 HR, 45 R, 40 RBIs, 16 SB

Given how different these players are, they have given similar production in 2010. Davis has more power while Pagan has hit for a better average and has more speed. By these numbers there’s not any overwhelming evidence to prefer Davis over Pagan. Let’s look at some other numbers:

ID – 10.1 BB%, 25.7 K%, .170 ISO, .309 BABIP
AP – 8.9 BB%, 15.1 K%, .155 ISO, .331 BABIP

Davis has an edge in BB% and ISO while Pagan has a better strikeout rate. The average on balls in play is not so cut and dry. While Pagan has a big edge, he had a .349 mark in the category last year and profiles as a player who should have a high BABIP. But, if we look at the component stats, Pagan’s xBABIP is .299 while Davis checks in at .314

So, has Pagan been lucky with his balls in play? That is certainly one interpretation and I would not fault anyone who came to that conclusion. On the other hand, Davis has “earned” his BABIP, which certainly was a question some had when he was promoted. MLB pitchers have not eaten Davis up.

Lastly, let’s look at some defensive numbers.

ID – UZR/150 – 9.6; Defensive Runs Saved – 8
AP – UZR/150 – 9.9; Defensive Runs Saved – 8

That is as close to a wash as you could get. Davis is a terrific defensive first baseman while Pagan has been an excellent center fielder.

And there is the rub for me. Pagan is putting up equivalent numbers while playing a much, much tougher position. Let’s compare their numbers again, this time comparing them to their positional peers. Here is where each player rates compared to those who play their position

	AVG	OBP	SLG	BB%	K%	ISO	BABIP
ID	T18th	22nd	22nd	T19th	24th	19th	14th
AP	6th	6th	11th	11th	7th	14th	8th

Suddenly, Pagan looks a whole lot more valuable than Davis. And if we examine their WAR, we see that Davis has a 1.1 mark while Pagan has posted a 2.9 WAR according to FanGraphs.

There are other factors that we should consider before trading either player, specifically age, as Davis is 23 and Pagan turned 29 a week ago. But the bottom line is that in 2010, Pagan is a much more valuable property than Davis. You have to project a lot of growth for Davis to get him to match what Pagan is doing right now. That is certainly not impossible. But before being ready to include Pagan in any deal, think hard about how much value he is giving the Mets currently.

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Posted in: Perspectives