The San Francisco Giants have pushed the right button when it comes to Joe Panik, who was called up in June in an effort to shore up second base, a position that kept chewing players up and spitting them out. Panik settled in immediately, doing the right things without being flashy, and making Giants fans forget about Marco Scutaro and the sink-hole at second.
I believe that Joe Cool, a name I have seen bandied about in connection with Joe Panik, is about to establish himself on the big stage that constitutes the playoffs. I think this because he has done everything right. He has taken over a spot on the field that Marco Scutaro had manned so well, and he has removed the uncertainty at the number two spot in the lineup.
Jul 6, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Joe Panik (12) hits an RBI double during the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Hicks began the season at second base, and as long as he was hitting home runs, his sub-200 average could be ignored, but that ended in May. Ehire Adrianza might have been the answer, but he couldn’t get his bat going, and Dan Uggla was a short-lived experiment that fizzled when Uggla could not hit the ball any more effectively than he had been able to do with the Marlins. So, enter Joe Cool.
Panik does not seem to get riled, he batted .301 in the regular season, and he had three hits in Wednesday’s epic showdown in Pittsburgh.
Panik’s three hits, Wednesday night, got lost in the Brandon & Brandon Show.
You didn’t hear much about the three hits because of the Brandon & Brandon fireworks (Brandon Crawford
hit a grand slam andBrandon Belt
had two hits and three RBIs) but that doesn’t take away from the accomplishment.
Historically, the Giants have had phenomenal success bringing home-grown products up through the system. Buster Posey led the Giants to a world championship in his first year, and Tim Lincecum, brought up in mid-year during 2007, won a Cy Young Award his first full season, 2008. And don’t forget that Madison Bumgarner pitched a shutout and won a world series game in his first season as a 20-year-old.
Jun 1, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA;San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during game two of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
It would seem to me that players who come up through the system and who have been groomed to play at AT&T Park, and who have been vicariously a part of the success of the parent club, would have a tendency to be better adapted to take on a more prominent role on the field. Whether that means making a game-saving catch or putting the ball in play at a crucial point in the game, I can’t say, but look for Joe Panik to push some sort of button that allows the Giants to experience success.
What if just one of those three hits on Wednesday night had been a deciding factor in the outcome of the game? I fully expect that Joe Panik will put his personal stamp on this playoff series, and I believe that he will be a big part of any success that the Giants experience in the series against Washington.