Chicago White Sox: Why Dewayne Wise Is the Best Option for the Bench

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2012

Dewayne Wise was 2-for-4 with a run scored as well as an RBI in his return to the White Sox. Wise could prove to be a valuable reserve in the coming weeks.
Dewayne Wise was 2-for-4 with a run scored as well as an RBI in his return to the White Sox. Wise could prove to be a valuable reserve in the coming weeks.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox shuffled their bench over the weekend while taking two of three games from the Oakland Athletics. When the smoke cleared, Jordan Danks was headed back to Charlotte and veteran Dewayne Wise made his return to Chicago after a three-year absence.

Despite other minor league options and Danks' heroics in Friday's victory, Wise is the right man for the job.

The White Sox plan on bringing an additional pitcher up to help a staff that has been busy over the last few weeks. Why swap Danks with Wise? For that matter, why not bring up slugging first baseman Dan Johnson to use in the late innings?

Why? Because Wise is the best option, period.

Like Danks, Wise is a good defender and a lefty bat. Unlike Danks, he has experience in the role the White Sox need from a fourth outfielder. Wise has played this part before and has even been in a pennant race with Chicago back in 2008.

With two hits, and RBI and a run scored in a 7-3 White Sox winner, Wise is hitting .277 in 56 games, most with the Yankees before being released in favor of Ichiro Suzuki. Here is a direct comparison between Danks and Wise this season:

Player AB Ave. OB% SL% Runs HR RBI
Danks 49 .265 .275 .347 8 1 3
Wise 65 .277 .299 .492 12 3 9

Danks' OPS is .621. Wise's OPS is .791. Keep in mind that Wise is used to the sporadic at-bats the fourth outfielder gets.

I hate to see Danks go down because he has played well since being recalled. However, he'll play every day in Charlotte for the next couple of weeks and be better because of it. When forced to choose, I'll take Wise.

One thing I thought the White Sox were sacrificing in bringing up Wise over Johnson, who has 26 homers in Charlotte, was some pop on the bench. When I took a real good look at the numbers, however, I was stunned to see how much better a pinch-hitting option Wise is.

Most people think of Johnson as a good pinch-hitter because of a big home run in that role last year for Tampa Bay. Johnson has 222 minor league homers and has 53 homers in parts of six big-league seasons. Johnson is the owner of the more powerful bat off the bench...right?

Wrong, and as I found out, it isn't even close. Here is the comparison in career pinch-hitting appearances:

Player AB Ave. OB% SL% Runs HR RBI
Johnson 35 .138 .200 .345 3 2 5
Wise 94 .300 .304 .467 10 3 14

For all his Triple-A potency, Johnson has failed to break the Mendoza line in his last two stints in the majors. Not only is Wise a much better pinch hitter as shown over time, but his numbers coming off the bench are better than his overall career production in terms of average, on-base and slugging percentage.

Does that make your jaw drop? I know mine did. Now, factor in the following:

  1. Wise can also pinch run.
  2. Wise can field any of the outfield positions.
  3. Wise has faced major league hitters this season.

Johnson, who hasn't lit the majors on fire in recent cups of coffee with the Rays, can DH and play first. Those are positions that, even minus Paul Konerko, Chicago can fill with several players.

GM Kenny Williams didn't sign Wise to play out the string for the Charlotte Knights. He picked up a veteran who has a history with the team to improve the bench.

Danks and Johnson are probably up in Chicago come September when rosters expand and could play a part in some victories. For now, however, they have selected the right man for the bench in Dewayne Wise.