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San Francisco Giants: The Case for Joe Panik in Leadoff Spot

Jake Mastroianni
Apr 2, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik against the Arizona Diamondbacks during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik against the Arizona Diamondbacks during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Through 15 games the San Francisco Giants leading hitter average-wise is none other than second baseman Joe Panik.

Not only does he have the highest average on the team — among those who qualify — at .319, but he also has the highest on-base-percentage at .389.

He’s walked as many times (six) as he’s struck out this year.

I know Panik struggled in 2016 with a .239 batting average and .319 on-base-percentage, but injuries had a lot to do with those low numbers.

He’s still just 26 years old, and he’s proven in the past that he can hit major league pitching.

It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t played more than 127 games in a single season yet, and hasn’t received over 500 at-bats.

In six minor league seasons he had a combined average of .294 and an on-base-percentage of .363.

He’s also stolen double-digit bases three times in his minor league career. If he’s going to bat leadoff you’d love to see him get back to those numbers, but it’s not imperative.

In 2014 and 2015 for the Washington Nationals, Denard Span hit .302/.355 and .301/.365. Those are great numbers for a leadoff hitter, but he hasn’t been that same guy since coming over to the Giants.

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Last year he hit just .266/.331, and so far this year he’s hitting .209/.261. While I certainly expect those numbers to go way up during the season, I’m not sure we ever see his ’14 and ’15 production levels again.

However, Span would be great at the bottom of the lineup, especially if you want to bat the pitcher eighth. He can flip the lineup and set the table for the top of the order.

Now that Buster Posey is back in the lineup, we have to do a better job of setting him up for RBI opportunities.

It’s really hard to believe that Panik has only received five at-bats in the leadoff spot. And he has 2 hits in those at-bats.

It’s time for a change at the top of the lineup, and I think it’s time for Panik to bat leadoff.

Next: San Francisco Giants: Closer Look at Offense and Pitching After Two Weeks

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Is it time to shake things up in the lineup?

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