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San Francisco Giants: 5 most important players for the second half

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 03: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Buster Posey #28 after he hit a home run in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park on April 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 03: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Buster Posey #28 after he hit a home run in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park on April 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JUNE 01: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants throws before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 1, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JUNE 01: Joe Panik #12 of the San Francisco Giants throws before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 1, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

2B Joe Panik

When Joe Panik debuted with the team in 2014, most believed the San Francisco Giants had finally found their star second baseman for years to come. That notion was further assured when he hit a career-high .312 in 2015 to earn a spot on the NL All-Star team.

Then the rollercoaster started.

While Panik won his one and only Gold Glove in the 2016 season, he battled injuries and struggled to find a rhythm at the plate. After missing a combined 181 games from 2015-2018, it became unclear if Panik would ever be healthy enough to be relied on as an everyday second baseman.

At the same time, questions surrounding his offensive ability when healthy also started to appear. While he has always been a good contact hitter and still owns one of the lowest strikeout percentages in the league, Panik’s power has started to taper off.

In 2018, he started the year off well by hitting two home runs in his first two games. However, he then went on to hit just two more dingers in the next 100 games. His batting average has also been up and down for the past few seasons as well.

The 28-year-old currently owns a .228/.305/.314 line with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 80 games. With his fellow middle infielder Brandon Crawford battling a hamstring injury this season and Donovan Solano filling the spot a short, there isn’t a whole lot of depth at the second base spot.

As a result, Panik does not seem to be in any real danger of losing his starting spot, despite his middling performance. The question now is whether he can prove he belongs in the picture beyond the 2020 season when he’s scheduled to reach free agency.

Panik seems to finally be healthy this year and that should allow him an opportunity to find his rhythm at the plate during the second half. If he continues to struggle, the team will have to start weighing alternatives for 2020 and beyond.

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