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The season that was: Joe Panik

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Blue Jays signed Joe Panik back in January (before the world went nuts, if we could have seen into the future, first thing I would have done would have been to start my holiday 3 or 4 weeks earlier).

Panik had won a Gold Glove back in 2016, and occasionally had decent batting stats. The two previous seasons he had OPS+ numbers of 79 and 75. So we weren’t expecting much.

My concern at the time, was that he had never played short.

Standard Batting
41 141 120 18 27 6 0 1 7 0 0 20 27 .225 .340 .300 .640 79
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/26/2020.

Baseball Reference has him at a -0.4 WAR and FanGraphs 0.3 (FanGraphs liked his defense more).

Joe had a .296 wOBA and 86 wRC+.

His walk rate was 14.2% (way up from last year’s 8.8) and strikeout rate was 19.1% (way up from 9.6).

His line drive rate was 22.8% (same as last year’s 22.9), ground ball rate 47.8% (up from 43.3) and fly ball rate 29.3% (down slightly from 33.8). His fly balls were leaving the park 11.1% of the time (up from 9.0).

Joe’s soft contact rate was down (12.9% from 18.6). Medium contact up (52.7% from 44.3) and hard contact down (34.4% from 37.0).

His BABIP was .283, up a bit from .262.

Panik had reverse splits hitting .303/.410/.364 against LHP (just 39 PA) and .195/.314/.276 against RHP.

He hit better on the road (.238/.360/.333) than in Buffalo (.211/.318/.263).

Joe was a better with RISP, .261/.433/.304.

  • July: .267/.267/.214 with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts in 5 games.
  • August: .217/.294/.283 with 5 walks and 10 strikeouts in 16 games.
  • September: .233/.387/.333 with 1 home run, 14 walks and 12 strikeouts in 20 games

He started slow then picked up some in the middle there, the finished on a 1 for 19 run. In a 60 game season, 1 for 19 is a killer.

Defensively? He didn’t get enough playing time to really get a good reading.

He played

  • 116 innings at second and had a 6.4 UZR/150. He had 1 error for a .987 FA.
  • 94 innings at short and had a 2.2 UZR/150. He had no errors at short.
  • 73 innings at third and a -27.4 UZR/150 and no errors.

I would ignore the UZR in that few innings, but I really don’t think he had the arm for third.

He was above average as a base runner, 1.3 runs above average. We didn’t have many guys on the positive side.

Where he hit in the batting order (in games started):

  • 5th: 1 time.
  • 6th: 3 times.
  • 7th: 13 times.
  • 8th: 12 times.
  • 9th: 3 times.

We were 19-13 in games he started.

As a utility player, he was adequate but then better than Brandon Drury. I would have been happier if he had played less, but then I think the same about all utility infielders.

He seemed to be a good guy and got along well with his teammates and all, which is essential for a utility player. If we made a list of players we all felt were terrific guys, many would-be utility players. Because there are a lot of guys that can put up a 0 WAR, so if you have a choice, you’ll pick the nice guy. If you put up a 10 WAR, you can be Roger Clemens.

All-in-all, I’d prefer to have seen more of Santiago Espinal, but teams tend to like veterans in the job, choosing to have younger guys play every day in the minors. Maybe it is better that way, but perhaps younger guys would learn more about being up in the majors. And, if you gave Espinal the at-bats Panik, Villar, and Drury had, it would add up to full-time work. And he could have, more than likely, been more or less replacement level too.

I know that baseball has reasons for using veterans in these spots. As a fan, I’d rather see a younger guy.


For his 2020 season I would grade Joe Panik a

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