San Francisco Giants: Is Joe Panik the Answer?


All season long the San Francisco Giants have struggled to find a solid replacement for the oft-injured Marco Scutaro. Joaquin Arias started at second on Opening Day versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he was soon replaced as Brandon Hicks burst onto the scene with a few well-timed home runs.

Those homers were enough to keep Hicks in the lineup for a while, but once his average plummeted below .180, he rarely saw the field.

Then, the mad scramble to find a new second baseman began. Ehire Adrianza started a few games, but he struggled at the plate. Amid team-wide struggles, San Francisco turned to rookie Joe Panik.

On June 22nd, Panik started at the big league level for the first time in his career and led the Giants to victory with an impressive 2-for-4 performance. However, Panik soon began to struggle at the dish, prompting San Francisco to once again look elsewhere.

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The Giants signed veteran Dan Uggla — who was recently dropped by the Atlanta Braves — to a minor league deal. San Francisco had hoped to give Uggla a few weeks in the minors, but because of minor injuries to both Adrianza and Panik, Uggla was thrust into the starting lineup for the biggest series of the season.

He struggled to say the least. His performance was so uninspiring (he committed three errors and struck out in half of his plate appearances) that the Giants quickly released Uggla in favor of AA infielder Matt Duffy.

Duffy has not been spectacular during his short stint with San Francisco, but it’s important to note he has not been given enough at-bats to prove himself.

He won’t get another shot anytime soon either as he has been sent back down after the Giants activated Angel Pagan off of the disabled list.

Panik’s recent success gave San Francisco confidence to send Duffy down to Double-A, effectively making him the team’s everyday starting second baseman for the time being.

After game two of the series versus the New York Mets, Panik was hitting just .203. However, in the four games he’s played since then, he’s 9-for-14, raising his average to .261.

Jul 6, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Joe Panik (12) throws to first during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

His effectiveness has not been limited to the batter’s box, either. He has played a solid second base ever since being called up.

His hot-streak has excited Giants fans, with many wondering if he could be the second baseman of the future in San Francisco.

Let’s take a look.

First off, 92 at-bats isn’t enough. He has to continue getting constant playing time — which he will — before it’ll be clear whether he has what it takes to play in the major leagues.

Up to this point, most of his major league career has been a struggle at the plate. His hot streak has hidden some of his earlier blunders. Is this success a product of him becoming more comfortable at the major-league level or will it be short-lived?

Only time will tell, but either way the Giants are certainly enjoying production from second base; it’s something they’ve been without almost the entire season.

Looking ahead to next season, there aren’t many options other than Joe Panik at second base. Aside from him, the answer to their second-base woes is not within the organization. That’s why many fans were hoping San Francisco would make a splash at the trade deadline for Ben Zobrist, but Sabean keenly didn’t risk shipping off his top prospects.

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  • The Giants could add a second baseman via free agency in the offseason, but second baseman will be in short supply. The most compelling free-agent-to-be would be Emilio Bonifacio, but it’s unliekly San Francisco would pull the trigger on him (he’s almost 30 years old).

    San Francisco needs to look for a second baseman of the future — a guy that will spend numerous years with the Giants. Second base has been a position characterized by instability and question marks ever since Freddy Sanchez hurt his shoulder and mysteriously never returned.

    Panik may be that guy, but as mentioned earlier, it’s too early to tell. All signs point towards him being San Francisco’s second baseman for the rest of this season — and probably into next year.

    Panik has performed admirably of late, but at this point he is the starter because of necessity, not because he’s earned it.