Analysis: Beltran to right field

Credit Carlos Beltran this: he made what appears to be the right decision for the Mets.

Beltran announced Monday that he will move to right field for the upcoming season, paving the way for Angel Pagan to start in center. According to metrics, it’s the smart move — in a little more than half a season in center field last year, Pagan ranked fourth in the Majors with an 11.8 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games, according to the web site Fangraphs.com, which measures a player’s overall defensive contributions. And that’s no aberration — he holds a combined 12.4 UZR/150 at all three outfield positions for his career. Even in Beltran’s best defensive season, 2008, he posted a 12.2 UZR/150. Considering he is one surgery and three years removed from that season, it’s reasonable to think he might never reach that level again — while Pagan, in his age-29 season, could potentially improve. (Disclaimer: defensive stats at times can be murky, but do give a general idea of a player’s worth.)

For all Pagan’s offensive improvements last season, his bat also plays better in center. The Mets insisted that whatever they decided this season would be final, meaning if Beltran started in center field and suffered an injury, Pagan would remain in right. But Pagan’s bat and skill set are a better match for center, meaning that if Beltran does get injured, the Mets can safely plug in someone with more power and less range — a Nick Evans type, for example — in right.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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