Jays Journal contributors will be authoring Toronto Blue Jays report cards based on how each player performed in 2020. In this edition, we take a look at Joe Panik.
Back in January of this year, the Toronto Blue Jays signed former World Series champion Joe Panik to a one-year deal worth just under $3 million. There was hope he’d resort to his old self back in San Francisco, but with his age climbing and his play falling, the Blue Jays made a safe deal.
There wasn’t much doubt Panik would be playing second base for Toronto. Panik -from Yonkers, New York, was coming into his seventh season in the major leagues. He brought leadership, veteran stability, and decent defence to a team who is in the process of rebuilding.
When he was picked up in free agency this offseason, he was coming off a fairly decent outing with the New York Mets. In 39 games with New York, Panik had 26 hits, 12 runs batted in, and only nine strikeouts accumulating a batting average of .277. Not bad for a short stint.
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With the Blue Jays this season, he had roughly the same numbers with 41 games played: 27 hits, only seven RBI, but struck out 27 times. He finished the season with a .225 batter average.
Unfortunately for Panik, he doesn’t have a long list of highlights anymore. When searching his name on the internet many home runs, Gold Glove worthy plays, and jaw-dropping events happened with the San Francisco Giants.
But, Panik did give Blue Jays fans some reason to like him. He had his first home run in a Jays uniform at Yankee Stadium:
The moment you hit a home run against the New York Yankees, especially in New York, the Jays fans immediately welcome you to the family.
Panik also showed the Blue Jays why he is a Gold Glover with this snag against the Yankees:
His glove is one of his most remarkable features. When he’s comfortable with his shortstop and first baseman, he can make the wildest plays and turn many single outs into double plays.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it a lot this year. Whether it was due to his age, minimal appearances or other things, Blue Jays fans didn’t truly see the Joe Panik who was so loved in the Bay Area.
His offence was down substantially and the Blue Jays will need to have someone who can be consistent on defence and at the plate. Especially since Toronto is on the uptick of their rebuild, they may look to find another second baseman to backup Biggio.
Panik did what was expected of him. He was a much-needed veteran in the infield, he flashed his glove when needed and also proved he can hit from time-to-time. The Jays would’ve liked more from Panik and he probably wanted more out of himself as well.
As a fan of Joe Panik, it would be nice to see him back in Canada (or Buffalo, depending on where next season is played). He’s a great person and 2021 could be a redemption year for him.