From the moment Joe Panik was released by the San Francisco Giants on August 7, it seemed inevitable that he would finish the 2019 season as a New York Met. On August 9, just two short days later, the Mets had signed Joe Panik to fortify their infield after Robinson Cano tore his hamstring. Panik made his Mets debut that same day and for the next month and a half, he spent his time being exceptionally average off the bench and in the starting lineup.
For a team that values players born and raised in New York so highly, it was only natural that someone who was born in Yonkers and participated the first ever game at Citi Field would eventually find his way into the orange and blue. One fun fact made possible by his appearance in Citi Field’s first exhibition contest with St. Johns in 2009 is that Joe Panik is the only player to participate in the first and the most recent game played in Citi Field.
The start of Panik’s career with the Mets couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start. During his Mets debut on August 9, Panik recorded his first hit as a Met when he kept the rally against Sean Doolittle and the Nationals alive with his single, eventually giving us the gift of shirtless Michael Conforto roaming the outfield grass. Through his first 12 games as a Met, just about everything went well for Joe Panik. Proving that the loss of Cano was no reason to Panik, in 41 trips to the plate from August 9 until August 22, Panik was hitting .342/.375/.421 with a trio of RBIs to his name.
Unfortunately, the grim facts of reality set in showing once again that good things don’t last forever and unsustainable BABIP remains very much unsustainable as Panik only managed to hit .232/.306/.393 with two home runs and nine runs driven in over his final 62 plate appearances between August 23 and the conclusion of the season.
Still, if you put those streaks of ice and fire together and you got yourself a combined .277/.333/.404 stint with the Mets for the second baseman. Looking at wRC+, Panik was almost literally league average with his 99 wRC+, which is a figure you can live with coming from an infielder off of the bench. In terms of wins above replacement, Panik posted 0.3 WAR using both the Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference models.
Panik’s biggest moment as a Met came on September 29 in what could end up being his last game with the team. The Walker Lockett meltdown and Dominic Smith’s improbable walkoff homer a couple innings later may have rendered it lost to the sands of time, but even if it was only for a few moments, Joe Panik’s home run with two outs in the eighth inning to give the Mets a 4-3 advantage over the Braves is a moment worth remembering. The play was summed up perfectly in the words of Gary Cohen as he said “the kid from Hopewell Junction puts the Mets in front on the final day of the season.”
With his contract up for renewal this offseason, it’s still up in the air whether or not we’ve seen the last of Joe Panik in a Mets uniform, but looking back on his performance in New York, the team has spent more time and money on worse backup infielders these past few seasons.