Going into the offseason, Joe Panik is one of the biggest question marks for the San Francisco Giants. It will be interesting to see what his future holds.
One thing that jumped out to me was the fact that Panik had a strikeout rate of just 7.7 percent in 2018 and has led the National League in having the lowest strikeout rate the last three seasons.
That seems good, right? Well, in my opinion it is, but in today’s game less and less of a premium is being placed on simply putting the ball in play.
The old adage “Good things happen when you put the ball in play” may soon be replaced with “Good things happen when you put the ball in the air”.
Launch angles are part of the game, and skills like bat control and taking the ball the opposite field may not be valued as much.
High strikeout rates are now accepted as long as you can hit the ball out of the yard. We all know Panik can hit dingers, but not at the rate that most next-gen baseball thinkers would want.
This brings into question Panik’s status with the team going forward. While he’s under team control for the next two years, the next general manager may opt for a fresh start at second base.
There are certainly reasons to move on from Panik. However, I hope that he stays put as the starting second baseman for at least one more year.
I truly believe that if he gets a full season unencumbered by injury that he will be able to prove that there is still value in a defensively solid, hit-for-average, low strikeout rate second baseman.
That’s a big if, not just because of injuries, but with new management, Panik knows that his future with the Giants is up in the air.
No matter what, we all know that Panik is a great Giant for helping the team win a title in 2014 and if his future isn’t in San Francisco, then let’s hope he is successful wherever he goes.