Joe Panik and the Case of the Disappearing Line Drive

After a great 2015 season which saw Joe Panik make the All-Star team, the Giants’ second baseman and former first-round pick has had a relatively dismal year at the plate in 2016. Last season he hit .312/.378/.455 with a modest 136 wRC+, and this year he hit .239/.315/.379 with a below average 89 wRC+. Before the season started, projection systems expected him to regress slightly as Panik benefited from a high .330 BABIP in 2015 but not to this level.

Still, the Yankees would have taken him for Andrew Miller. Panik has been a valuable player posting a 2.1 fWAR mostly because of his defense, so this hasn’t been a lost season by any means. He is recovering from a back injury that sidelined him for the last few months of 2015 and a concussion that put him on the DL just before this year’s All-Star break so that would explain some of his troubles, but perhaps not all of it. Has something changed about his approach, or is he merely unlucky?

Read the rest at Beyond the Box Score

Rebecca Makkai and Anna North on Perception, Artists, and Chicago

City of stories

My first experience with Rebecca Makkai was an accidental one. I was in Minneapolis for the AWP Conference in 2014 and I had just sat down for a panel titled “Art of the Encounter” because Chinelo Okparanta was sitting as a panelist and hers was the only name I recognized. Alas, Okparanta was unable to attend, and Chicago-based author, Rebecca Makkai was asked to fill in for her. The moderator, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, introduced her with an anecdote of listening to Makkai on audiobook while trying to pack before a move, which proved detrimental to his work as he constantly had to sit and listen to her words and allow himself to be enveloped by them. “Okay,” I thought, “She sounds like she must be pretty good.”

Since then, her books, The Borrower, Music for Wartime, and The Hundred-Year House have earned places among my favorite books due to their…

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Reading at Columbia College Chicago with Bhanu Kapil and Tony Trigilio

Tuesday, December 6th, I’ll be reading from a new story at Columbia College Chicago with poets, Bhanu Kapil and Tony Trigilio. Details for the event can found here.


Bhanu Kapil currently teaches at Naropa University and Godard College. Her cross-genre writing includes The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers and Humanimal: A Project for Future Children.


Tony Trigilio’s most recent collection of poetry is Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 2. He teaches poetry at Columbia College Chicago.

The reading is closing out Columbia’s fantastic Fall reading series which has included T. Geronimo Johnson and will feature Charles Johnson, Ross Gay, Hoa Nguyen among others.