Giants winning Pagan WAR

            Angel Pagan hasn’t been all too impressive since joining the Giants. Granted, he is working with a handicap – Giants fans are inevitably bitter about the Carlos Beltran trade last season.

            Along with the offseason swap that brought Pagan to the Giants, that brings the total bill of both trades with the Mets to: Andres Torres, Ramon Ramirez, and Zack Wheeler for Pagan and 44 games of Beltran. Even if the careers of Torres and Ramirez absolutely implode in New York, the Mets still stand to get the better of the deal, and by far.

            Wheeler is off to an electric start at Double-A Binghamton this season. The Mets top prospect – formerly the Giants’ top pitching prospect – has yet to win a game in four starts, though this is par for the course of minor-league life in April. Otherwise, the right-hander has posted a 1.80 ERA over 20 innings, while striking out 24 against 11 walks, though six of the walks came in an erratic performance Wednesday against Blue Jays affiliate New Hampshire.

            If Pagan has some more innings like the third inning of the Giants disappointing 4-2 loss the Reds on Weddnesday, that out-of-balance trades theory may need to be reassessed. But, the reason the specific trade that brought Pagan to San Francisco makes sense is because of a different theory – that being: WAR theory.

            WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement, and is one of the most popular measures of individual ball players among sabermetric circles. For those of you who saw Moneyball, WAR is the equation to which the faux-fictional Peter Brand refers when explaining to Billy Beane his secret formula for evaluating players statistically.

            Like all baseball stats, WAR is represented by a number. It’s theoretical in the sense that there isn’t a uniform method in equating the stat. Baseball Prospectus is considered the authority on the matter, which uses a different equation than Baseball Reference. I’ll be using Baseball Reference’s numbers, because, as their name suggests, it is much easier to reference.

            In essence, WAR is represented by a number from roughly the low of -0.5 (one of the worst, which suggests a player actually cost his team a win) to the high of 9.5 (one of the best, which suggests a player was worth 9 ½ wins in a given season).

            Now, the Giants are renowned as being an organization that doesn’t embrace the use of sabermetric data in day-to-day baseball operations. However, a concise case for replacing Torres with Pagan can be made with the players’ given WAR figures from 2010. Both players are similar, in the sense that they both had career years in 2010, followed by a disappointing season in 2011. But, in isolating their upside with their WAR values of 2010, Pagan (5.1) was worth a half game more than Torres (4.6). Career wise, Pagan (10.3) is nearly twice as valuable as Torres (5.9).

            Both of these season and career discrepancies are fairly significant. And, now that Torres has landed on the disabled list, it puts Pagan on pace to be largely more valuable in 2012.


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