When Joe Panik made his Major League Baseball debut for the San Francisco Giants on June 11, 2014, — which is officially May 22, because of the make-up game with the Colorado Rockies — the thoughts of winning the National League Rookie of the Year seemed illogical. He simply came up too late. After Panik, has saved the Giants at second base in the absence of Marco Scuatro, that conventional thinking may have to be shoved out the door.
As of September 11, Panik has 206 at-bats on the season with a slash line of .316/.363/.383 with 65 hits, yet only one home run. He’s been a natural, old-school second baseman and two-hitter in the lineup, as he finds ways to get hits with minimal power that could develop over time. In his short amount of time on the Giants, he has made an impact in the present and looks to be the second baseman of the future.
If Panik were to win the NL Rookie of the Year, he would be the seventh Giants player to do so since 1947, joining: Buster Posey in 2010, John Montefusco in 1975, Gary Matthews in 1973, Willie McCovey in 1959, Orlando Cepeda in 1958, and Willie Mays in 1951. He would also be the first second baseman to win the award since the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Steve Sax won the award in 1982.
In Panik’s case, the most important past Giant to win the award is Willie McCovey. In 1959, McCovey finished the season with only 192 at-bats. However, in those limited at-bats, 13 of McCovey’s 68 hits were home runs, while also knocking in 38 runs. McCovey finished the season with a .354/.429/.656 slash.
Currently, Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds with his 55 stolen bases and Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets with his 2.62 ERA, are considered to be the front-runners for the award, but with Giants history and their place in the league standings, Panik will certainly be up for consideration.