San Francisco Giants:Player Profile-Joe Panik


Nothing impresses a former second baseman more, than a quality second baseman. After several years of players who played the position admirably, the San Francisco Giants look like they have found the long-term solution in Joe Panik.

Some very fine players have played there. Robby Thompson, Jeff Kent, Tito Fuentes, Joe Morgan, Freddy Sanchez, Marco Scutaro, Manny Trillo. (Wait, how did he get there, let me just keep going.) These players all handled the position well, but only two (Fuentes and Thompson) came up through the organization.

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Thompson played in 1278 games, second only to Larry Doyle of the early New York Giants era. Fuentes is fourth on the list with 841 games, just behind Kent who played in 854.

The importance of bringing up your own talent is the fact that you get a few quality years at a lower price, and don’t need to spend extra money to see if a player fits.

Joe Panik is right in that same mold of Thompson. A steady player with good hands, and a professional attitude. He is more mature with the bat then Thompson was at this stage in his career, and even showed some good power numbers with 8 home runs last year.

His .309 batting average over the first two seasons shows a great ability to read the strike zone at a young age, and that will only improve. Playing shortstop until switching over to second in 2013, he already has solidified the position. He made his first All-Star team this past year, and played a key role in the team’s third championship in 2014. (The greatest double play in World Series history.)

As we have witnessed in San Francisco, good defense up the middle is essential. With a pitching staff that keeps the ball down, and sometimes gets the hitter’s off balance, an infield that can improvise is crucial. And the pitchers know that when they have Panik and Brandon Crawford up the middle, they are covered.

And Panik can only get better. His batting average will likely stay around .300 for his entire career with his quick hands and level swing. But as he continues to get experience, he will not have to react to the pitches as much, he will be able to guess more.

His ceiling is as high as any other second baseman in the San Francisco era. His staying power will be directly related to his ability to get on base and his ability to keep people off of it.

This all from a guy who was widely regarded as a reach in the first round of the 2011 draft. The Giants saw a finished product. Someone who was already a big leaguer, just needed a short taste of minor league ball to mature a little. Other teams most likely viewed him as having already peaked.

But steady play in every level that you play doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be overmatched when you finally get to the big leagues. It might mean that you are just very good at each level. A lot of players hit for high averages or crush quite a few home runs before making it to the show. Then their true colors come out.

Players like Panik, who are seen as “just good enough” are many times the ones who end up quietly playing for a franchise for eleven-fifteen years. They pick up Gold Gloves and go to All-Star games without much fanfare. At some point in their careers it becomes routine.

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And after all is said and done, the drafting of Joe Panik in the first round of the 2011 draft will look like a steal, rather than a reach.