Joseph Matthew Panik
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 195 lb.
- School St. John's University
- High School John Jay High School
- Debut June 21, 2014
Joe Panik was a first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft.
Panik was All-State twice in high school. As a college freshman at St. John's University in 2009, he hit .332/.426/.513 with 47 RBI in 50 games. He improved to .374/.477/.621 with 66 runs in 61 games in 2010, fielding .949. He was 9th in the Big East Conference in average. As a junior, he showed continued good offense (.398/.509/.642, 60 R, 57 RBI in 58 G), fielded .953 and also ran the bases very well (21 SB, 6 CS). He was named first-team All-Conference, tying for the Big East lead in average, leading in OBP, finishing second in slugging, tying for second in runs and placing fourth in RBI. He finished second in St. John's history in average (.370), third in RBI (157), fourth in doubles (48) and fifth in homers (25). The San Francisco Giants picked him 29th overall in the 2011 amateur draft. It was the first time three Big East players had gone in the first round - George Springer and Matt Barnes had preceded him. He was the highest pick out of St. John's since Craig Hansen in 2005.
Panik signed quickly and made his pro debut with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes; after 11 games, he was hitting .364/.451/.591 with 3 homers, 7 walks and 9 RBI. He hit .341/.401/.467 with 6 home runs, 54 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 69 games overall. In 2012, he hit .297/.368/.402 with 7 home runs, 76 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 130 games for the San Jose Giants and in 2013, he hit .257/.333/.347 with 4 home runs, 57 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 137 games for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Panik made his debut with the Giants mid-way through the 2014 season and immediately took over as the starting second baseman, hitting .305 in 73 games. The Giants won their third World Series title in five years by defeating the Kansas City Royals in the Fall Classic. Joe got off to a great start in the postseason with a 3-for-5 performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild card Game. He only went 14 for 68 (.206) over the next three series, but matched his regular season home run total by going deep off Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 3rd inning of Game 5 of the NLCS on October 16th, a 6-3 win.
He followed up in 2015 with a very good sophomore season that saw him named to the All-Star team for the first time. In 100 games, he hit .312 with 8 homers and 37 RBIs and scored 59 runs. However, an injury limited him to only 3 games after August 1st, and the Giants missed the postseason. In 2016, he won a Gold Glove for his fielding at second base, but his hitting fell considerably, as he batted only .239 in 127 games. He did set personal bests with 10 homers, 7 triples and 62 RBIs. The Giants were back in the postseason and he scored a key run in the Wild Card Game against the New York Mets on October 5th: with the game scoreless in the top of the 9th and Brandon Crawford on second after a lead-off double, he drew a one-out walk off Jeurys Familia before coming to score on Conor Gillaspie's dramatic three-run homer. He then went 6-for-10 in three games against the Chicago Cubs in the Division Series, but the Cubs defeated the Giants in four games.
Panik saw his hitting bounce back significantly in 2017, although his performance was lost in the shuffle of a dreadful season by the Giants. On September 6th, he went 5-for-5, completing a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies during which he batted a scorching 12 for 15, setting a team record for most hits in a three-game series and tying the post-1900 major league record for same. He hit .288 in 138 games, with 10 homers and 53 RBIs, scoring 60 runs. In 2018, he was the hero of the Giants' first two games of the season, both 1-0 wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Opening Day, March 29th, he hit a solo homer off Clayton Kershaw to provide the winning margin, then on March 30th, he homered off closer Kenley Jansen in the top of the 9th to account for the game's only run. Until then, Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood had been locked in a tremendous pitching duel, each giving up just one hit in 7 and 8 innings of work, respectively. However, those two homers were the only two runs the Giants scored in their first four games, as the offense started off the year stone cold; Panik was the sole exception, going 6 for 15 in the series. He played 102 games that season, hitting .254 with 4 homers and 24 RBIs as he cooled down considerably after his hot start. In 2019, he was hitting .235 after 103 games when he was released on August 7th, after the Giants had failed to find someone willing to take him in a trade at the trading deadline. Two days later, he signed with the New York Mets and finished the year with them, hitting .277 in 39 games. Overall, he played 142 games that season, hitting .244 with 5 homers and 39 RBIs. Both in 2018 and 2019, his OPS+ was well under 100, making it clear that he was no longer able to hold down a job as a major league regular. Interestingly, he had played second base exclusively until that time, except for one lone start at first base in 2018.
His career path changed when he signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on January 20, 2020. There was no intention of having him start at second base, as the Jays had a very good young player to do so in Cavan Biggio. Instead he would have to earn a job as a utility infielder by proving he could handle shortstop and third base in addition to second. He did so, and spent the entire pandemic-shortened season with the Jays, appearing in 41 games and hitting .225 with 1 homer and 7 RBIs. He was hitting only .215 through the end of August, but added 200 points of OPS in September to finish on a strong note. He appeared in both post-season games the Jays played against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Series, going 0 for 2 as a substitute in Game 1, and 1 for 4 as the starter at second base in Game 2. He returned to the Jays in 2021, but was slated to start the season in the minors as an insurance policy until George Springer was placed on the injured list on the eve of Opening Day. He was then added to the roster as a bench player.
- 2011 MVP Northwest League Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
- NL All-Star (2015)
- NL Gold Glove Winner (2016)
- Won a World Series with the San Francisco Giants in 2014