We’ve seen many fantastic performances by rookies in the World Series over the years. Braves and Yankees fans alike will remember a 19-year-old Andruw Jones hitting two home runs in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series. Red Sox fans have venom for Jacoby Ellsbury now, but his .438 batting average and three RBI in the 2007 Fall Classic helped propel Boston to a sweep of Colorado.
Enter Joe Panik, who’s trying to do what his teammate, Madison Bumgarner did in 2010: help the San Francisco Giants win the title as a rookie.
Panik, a 23-year-old from Yonkers, NY, made his major league debut on June 21 as a pinch-hitter, but he wouldn’t be coming off the bench long. The next day he was in the starting lineup, and Bruce Bochy decided his new second baseman was talented enough to make up for the absence of Marco Scutaro, who only played five games due to a back injury.
Panik took full advantage of the opportunity, batting .305 with 18 RBI in 287 plate appearances in the regular season. The Giants’ second base nightmare had a quick resolution, and that helped them get in the Wild Card game, which Panik went 3-for-5 in and San Fran won in a rout.
“Joey Baseball” hasn’t let up in the postseason, continuing to come up with timely hits in crunch time. He has recorded a hit in eight of the team’s 11 playoff games, with three multi-hit efforts.
Last night, he shook off a couple bad at-bats with an RBI triple in the top of the seventh that scored Gregor Blanco and gave the Giants a 6-0 advantage. He later scored on a Pablo Sandoval single to officially put the game out of reach, a 7-1 victory.
If you’re looking for an impact, X-factor player in this World Series, Panik is a viable option. Yordano Ventura, KC’s starter tonight, has a tendency to be wild, with four or more walks in nine starts this season. If Panik can be patient and get on base in that two-hole, this game could swing the Giants’ way in a hurry.
A 2-0 lead heading to Cali would greatly increase San Francisco’s chances of winning it all, and their second baseman can play a major part.