Injuries have been a major factor in the San Francisco Giants’ 2014 campaign and while they may have thrown a monkey wrench in the Giants’ World Series aspirations, they have also provided the opportunity for players like Joe Panik and Andrew Susac to emerge and prove they could be a big part of both the ball club’s present and future.
Having just 157 career major league AB’s has not stopped Panik from looking like a seasoned veteran at the plate. The Giants’ first round pick back in 2011 has been on a tear in August, hitting .391 with a OBP of .424, eight RBI’s and 11 runs scored. His performance this month has shown he has the potential to be a difference maker for the Giants going forward.
Panik has been especially good in the clutch. With two outs, the 24-year-old is hitting .362 with five RBI’s. Panik’s approach has much resembled that of a veteran, in that he rarely tries to do much and simply takes what the pitcher has given him. He seems just as content to slap a single to the opposite field as he is lacing a double, which shows a rare level of maturity and discipline.
The Giants .282/.330/.424 team line in August is their best of any month this season and there is no question that Panik had a significant role in their offensive success this month. Their 14-12 record in August is their first month above .500 since May and the offense, not the pitching has made the difference.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty regarding the future of Buster Posey behind the plate, along with the nagging head injuries to Hector Sanchez has made way for the emergence of Andrew Susac. Since going one for eight in his first nine AB’s, Susac has picked up the pace in August. The 24-year-old is .250 this month with two home runs and eight RBI’s.
In addition to showing signs of improvement offensively, Susac has displayed an acumen behind the plate that has caught the eye of Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy, who knows a things or two about catching. Bochy was recently quoted saying of Susac, “he’s probably done as much improving as any of our prospects.”
While the team has made no official decision on whether to move Posey to a corner infield position, if Susac can continue to show signs of improvement down the stretch, it could provide the Giants the luxury of doing so. Enough about the future though.
San Francisco currently sits just four games back of their long time rival Los Angeles and their four game winning streak has yielded signs that the Giants may not be settling for just a Wild Card spot.
Veterans such as Buster Posey, Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval will undoubtedly have to do their fair share for the Giants to track down the Dodgers but young players like Panik and Susac could end up being the difference in that happening or not.