Top 20 Volcanoes players of all time: #8 Joe Panik

Joe Panik has played for three teams over his seven-year big league career. He was also one of the key members of the San Francisco Giants squad that won the World Series in 2014 (Dave Zalubowski/Associated Press).

At #8 on the Keizertimes list of the greatest Volcanoes players of all time is Joe Panik. Panik has won a Gold Glove, a World Series ring, and appeared in an All-Star Game over his seven-year career.

Panik grew up in New York and played college baseball at St. John’s University in New York City. In his freshman season, Panik played in the first ever baseball game at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, on March 29, 2009.

After a successful sophomore season in 2010, Panik played collegiate summer ball for the Yarmouth–Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he batted .297 and was named to the East Division All-Star Team — Panik also received the league’s sportsmanship award.

The following season, Panik proved to be one of the top players in all of college baseball. Panik compiled a .398 batting average with 19 doubles, 10 home runs and 57 RBIs. He also had the 10th best on-base percentage (OBP) in the country (.509). Panik was recognized as an All-American and was a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, given to the nation’s best shortstop.

Panik was drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the San Francisco Giants in the 2011 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. He debuted with the Volcanoes later that summer and had one of the best seasons in franchise history.

Panik was named the Northwest League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the 2011 season after leading the league with a .341 batting average, 49 runs scored, 54 RBIs and a .401 OBP.

After he was invited to spring training with the Giants in 2012, Panik played his second year with the organization in advanced A-ball with the San Jose Giants, where he batted .297 with 27 doubles, seven home runs and 76 RBIs in 130 games.

Panik was promoted to Double-A in 2013 and spent the season with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, which is when he made the move from shortstop to second base. He batted .257 and had 27 doubles to go along with his four homers and 58 RBIs.

In 2014, Panik began the year in Triple-A with the Fresno Grizzlies, but on June 21, 2014, Panik was called up to join the Giants — he drew a walk in his first MLB at-bat.

On Aug. 22, 2014, Panik had one of the best games of his career with four base hits, and his first career homer, against Doug Fister of the Washington Nationals, in the Giants 10-3 victory.

Panik appeared in 73 games for the Giants in 2014. In 269 at-bats, he hit .305 with 10 doubles and a pair of triples. He finished sixth in National League (NL) Rookie of the Year voting. 

The Giants rewarded Panik’s stellar play with a spot on the squad’s playoff roster.

In his first postseason game, Panik went 3-for-5 in the Giants 8-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card game.

In game four of the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Nationals, Panik went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as the Giants won the game 3-2 and advanced to the National League Championship Series (NLCS).

Panik came through for the Giants again in game five of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, blasting a two-run homer in the bottom of the third off Adam Wainwright. The Giants clinched the series with a 6-3 victory and advanced to their third World Series in five years.

 At the plate, Panik went 6-of-27 with a pair of doubles, a triple and three RBIs in the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. However, the rookie second baseman made his mark on the series thanks to a remarkable play with his glove in game seven.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the third, the Royals had a runner on first and one out when slugger Eric Hosmer stepped to the dish. Hosmer drove a sharp grounder up the middle that appeared it was heading to the outfield for a base hit. However, Panik made a full-extended diving snag and flipped to shortstop Brandon Crawford — who is also a former Volcano player — for the force-out. Crawford then hurled the ball to first in time to get Hosmer for the 4-6-3 double play.

Hosmer was originally called safe on the play, but after a three minute replay review, the umpiring crew overruled the original call — it was the first overturned call in World Series history via replay review.

The Giants went on to clinch their third title of the decade by defeating the Royals 3-2 in game seven. ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield called the defensive stop by Panik “the play of the series.”

Panik’s first full season in the big leagues came in 2015 — it turned out to be the best year of his career. In 102 games, Panik batted .312 with 27 doubles, 37 RBIs and 59 runs scored. Panik’s performance earned him a trip to his first ever All-Star Game.

On April 25, 2015, Panik hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to propel the Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just nine days later, Panik delivered in the clutch yet again with a walk-off single against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

On May 3, 2015, after Giants leadoff hitter Nori Aoki socked a solo shot off Angels pitcher Jered Weaver in the bottom of the first, Panik, who was batting second, blasted a solo homer of his own to give the Giants the early 2-0 lead. It was the first time since 1964 that the Giants began a game with consecutive homers. 

Panik, however, had to be shut down towards the end of the 2015 season due to a stress fracture in his vertebrae. 

Despite missing a month of the 2016 season due to a concussion, Panik appeared in 127 games and hit 10 homers and had career-highs in RBIs (62) and runs scored (67). Panik also won his first Gold Glove in 2016, becoming the first Giants second baseman to win the award since Robby Thompson in 1993.

In the 2016 NLDS, Panik was one of the only offensive bright spots for the Giants, going 6-of-10 from the plate with two doubles and two RBIs — San Francisco was swept by the Chicago Cubs, who eventually went on to win the World Series.

In 2017, Panik hit .288 and had a career-high of 147 hits along with 10 homers and 53 RBIs. From Sept.4-6, panik set a franchise record, and tied an MLB record, with 12 hits in a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies — he was the first player to accomplish the feat since Jerry Remy in 1981. 

Panik made history again for the Giants at the beginning of the 2018 season. On March 31, Panik hit a solo homer off Clayton Kershaw in the Giants 1-0 victory over the Dodgers. The following day, Panik homered off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth, giving San Francisco another 1-0 win. It was the first time in MLB history that a player homered for his team in back-to-back 1-0 victories. 

With a homer against the Seattle Mariners two days later, Panik became the first MLB player to score his team’s first three runs of the season all on solo home runs. However, he would only end up hitting one homer for the remainder of the season. 

Panik finished 2018 hitting .254 with 14 doubles and a .307 OBP.

Panik struggled in the 2019 season, hitting just .235 with three homers in the first four months of the season. On Aug. 6, 2019, Panik was released by the Giants.

Panik was picked up by the Mets on Aug. 9, 2019 and finished the season with the team. He batted .277 with a pair of homers and 12 RBIs in 39 games.

On Jan. 18, 2020, Panik signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 41 games, Panik hit .225 with a homer and seven RBIs — the COVID-19 pandemic forced the MLB to reduce the 2020 season to just 60 games.

The Blue Jays qualified for the postseason but were swept in the opening round by the Tampa Bay Rays.