MLB

Joe Panik, Beloved Giants Draft Pick and Infielder, Retires From MLB

Former Giants fan-favorite infielder Panik retires from MLB originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

One of the most popular Giants of the last decade has quietly retired. 

Joe Panik, who joined Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt to form one of baseball's best infields in the middle of the last decade, confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area that his playing days are over. Panik said he's loving spending time with his wife, Brittany, and his seventh-month old daughter Mikayla, the couple's first child.

"I feel very blessed for the career I have had and what I was able to accomplish," Panik said via text. "Was literally a dream come true."

Panik noted how many great people he met during his decade in professional baseball and said he was "truly blessed for being able to be raised a Giant." The news of his retirement was first reported by Jon Heyman of the New York Post

The Giants surprised some in the industry when they took Panik 29th overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, but just three years later he was a key piece of their run to a third title. Panik came up in June of 2014 and hit .305 the rest of the year, finishing sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing less than half the season. A former shortstop, Panik immediately gelled with Crawford and formed one of the best defensive duos in baseball. The two teamed up for one of the more memorable defensive plays in Giants history, with Panik's glove-flip starting a huge double play in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. 

Panik hit .312 the next season with a .855 OPS and made an All-Star team in his first season as a full-time big leaguer. In 2016, he won the NL Gold Glove Award at second base and hit 10 homers. With Crawford and Belt already entrenched, the Giants looked like they had a third homegrown infielder locked in for years to come, but injuries cut into Panik's production and in 2019 he started losing time to Donovan Solano, who was brought in by a new front office. The Giants dealt for Mauricio Dubon and Scooter Gennett that July and a few days later Panik was designated for assignment. 

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The timing turned out to be perfect for Panik, a native of upstate New York. The Mets, his hometown team, had just lost Robinson Cano to an injury and Panik played 39 games for them down the stretch, posting a .738 OPS. He spent the shortened 2020 season as a utility infielder with the Toronto Blue Jays and last year played for the Blue Jays and Miami Marlins. 

Panik finishes his eight-year career with a .264/.328/.372 slash line and 42 homers, 36 of which came with the Giants. Among hitters who debuted since 2014, he had the sixth-lowest strikeout rate.

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