Finding a Match for Joe Panik: Detroit Tigers

2B Joe Panik joins Madison Bumgarner on the list of possible Giants to be traded. Panik’s 2018 season was a let down to say the least; he was virtually a replacement level player (0.1 WAR) after accruing 8.8 WAR over the previous 4 seasons (avg. of 2.2 WAR / season). There is a chance however that Panik was purely misfortunate in 2018, as conveyed b the stat-line below…

Season A

  • BB rate: 6.6%
  • K rate: 7.7%
  • LD% (line drive %): 22.9%
  • GB%: 47.6%
  • FB%: 29.5%
  • IFFB% (infield flyball %): 8.2%
  • Pull%: 38.4%
  • Cent%: 33.3%
  • Oppo%: 28.2%
  • Soft%: 18.3%
  • Med%: 50.5%
  • Hard%: 31.2%
  • Contact%: 91.1%

Season B

  • BB rate: 8.0%
  • K rate: 9.4%
  • LD% (line drive %): 21.9%
  • GB%: 44%
  • FB%: 34.1%
  • IFFB% (infield flyball %): 7.6%
  • Pull%: 36.1%
  • Cent%: 36.8%
  • Oppo%: 27.1%
  • Soft%: 20.1%
  • Med%: 53.8%
  • Hard%: 26.1%
  • Contact%: 89.9%

Season A was his most recent season (2018) and Season B was the 2017 season. Despite little discrepancy between the two, Panik was worth 1.8 WAR in 2017 and a mere 0.1 WAR the subsequent season. He hit 6 fewer HRs in 2018 (4 HRs in 2018 and 10 HRs in 2017). Much of that can be presumably attributed to bad luck…

Season A (2018)

  • BABIP: .265

Season B (2017)

  • BABIP: .301

His career BABIP up until this past season was .299 [(2014 ABs 269 * 2014 BABIP .343) + (2015 ABs 382 * 2015 BABIP .330) + (2016 ABs 464 * 2016 BABIP .245) + (2017 ABs 511 * 2017 BABIP .301] / 1626 (total ABs) = (92.267 + 126.06 + 113.68 + 153.811) / 1626 = .299]

I think it is fair to say that Panik’s 2018 statistics in actuality do not align with what should have theoretically played out. In terms of defensive value, Panik is average at 2B; he had a 0.3 UZR / 150 and cost his team one run (-1 DRS) last year.

Panik is projected to be worth 2.3 WAR according to Steamer, who predicts Panik to hit .276 AVG and slug 9 big flies. His BABIP is expected to rise closer to his career avgerage (.291 BABIP). Panik’s contract is very affordable ($3.85), and he has 1 year remaining on his contract (not much of a long term investment). The Giants see value in Panik and thus seek to flip him for assets who can help them in their rebuild. They are looking towards the FA market to inevitably replace Panik.

#SFGiants are among the teams showing interest in LeMahieu, sources tell The Athletic.

Ken Rosenthal

The Tigers could look to flip Panik at the deadline for a prospect or two. They could also hold onto Panik to keep the seat warm for promising infielder prospects that are still at least a year away from reaching the MLB (Isaac Paredes and Willi Castro).

I believe the Tigers, one of many rebuilding squads, will be interested in acquiring Panik. Fangraphs’ Depth Charts anticipates Tigers’ utility man Niko Goodrum (0.7 WAR projection per Fangraphs’ Depth Charts) to get the majority of the PT (455 PAs) at 2B. Additionally, propsect Dawel Lugo is still ways away from being major league ready; he had a .213 AVG and .267 OBP in just over 100 PAs late last season. Plate discipline is foreign to Lugo, who walked less than 2% of the time during his time with the Mud Hens (523 PAs). Through acquiring Panik, the Tigers could play Goodrum all over the diamond as well.

We will integrate Fangraphs’ new Update to Prospect Valuation system in order to most precisely formulate realistic compensation that the Tigers and Orioles could conceivably part with (for Joe Panik). 

results are presented in present-day WAR and translated to a rough dollar figure based on $9 million as the cost of a win on the free-agent market. Keep in mind that the dollar figure isn’t a direct value, but rather equivalent value of a prospect relative to the free-agent market. Part of the reason prospects have such tremendous value is due to the suppressed salaries permitted by the CBA until a player has reached six years of service time. By translating the WAR figure into a monetary value, we can compare the value of prospects with the values of major-league players and their contracts. These values likely roughly approximate what an individual player might get as a signing bonus if he were declared a free agent and teams could only provide a signing bonus instead of a long-term contract.

Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards

In other words, Fangraphs assigned a monetary value for all minor league prospects (based on how former prospects belonging to that tier / rank performed during the first 9 seasons of their baseball career [“including the season in which a prospect was ranked”]). These values are comparable to current major leaguers (calculated through incorporating WAR [$9 million / 1 WAR] and the cost of the player’s contract). 

The calculations for Joe Panik’s surplus monetary value can be seen below…

2.3 WAR (2019 steamer projection) * $9 million / 1 WAR – $3.85 million = $20.4 million – $3.85 million = $16.55 million in surplus value

Tigers

SS Sergio Alcantara ($6 million), CF Derek Hill ($6 million), RHP Bryan Garcia and $0.85 million in cash for 2B Joe Panik ($16.85 million)

  • Sergio Alcantara, who was part of the 2017 trade deadline deal that sent J.D. Martinez to Arizona, is graded by Fangraphs as a 45 FV prospect (on the 20-80 scouting scale). He is a highly regarded defender at SS, but his overall offensive profile is still a work in progress. On the plus side, he hit for a .272 AVG and walked 8.5% of the time in just short of 500 AA PAs. He also chipped in 8 SBs. The main drawback for Alcantara is his lack of power (1 HR in 2018). If he can develop some more pop in his bat, there is a high chance he grows into an everyday SS.
  • Former 1st round pick Derek Hill has yet to find his footing as a member of the Detroit Tigers’ organization. What he needs most is a change of scenery. The upside is undoubtedly present, but there is a low likelihood he reaches his lofty ceiling (everyday CF). Hill is an above average defender in center and he’s lightning quick (35 SBs in 106 games). He struggled mightily (offensively) last season at A+, hitting for a .239 AVG and 4 HRs. Likewise to Alcantara, Hill’s development offensively will dictate what his future in the MLB will hold.
  • Bryan Garcia looked like the set-up man of the future until a TJ surgery set him back in 2018. In 2017, Garcia put up an ERA below 1 in 27.1 innings between A+ and AA, along with a double digit K / 9 (11.57 / 9 in 18.2 IP at AA) and a walk rate in the low 2s. If Garcia comes back healthy, he could contribute as a high-leverage member of the bullpen as early as 2020.

Thanks for reading.


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