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Happy birthday to four-time Blue Jay DeWayne Wise

Jim McIsaac

Today, four-time Blue Jays outfielder DeWayne Wise turns 36. Wise's career has been both quite unremarkable and quite remarkable.

He has been a career backup outfielder, ever getting above 239 major league plate appearances in any season, and has logged significant time in triple-A in almost every year of his career. At the plate, he is the owner of a .228/.265/.381 slash line and a whopping 65 wRC+ and a WAR of 0.5 or 0.8 depending which website you look at. According to Baseball-Reference's similarity scores, the three most similar players to Wise are Ivan Murrell, Ryan Langerhans, and Billy Cowan. Basically, you shouldn't be surprised if you see DeWayne Wise's picture next to the dictionary entry for "replacement-level player" or "quad-A player."

But despite all his shortcomings, Wise has managed a long career, playing in the majors for parts of eleven seasons and accruing over seven years of major league service time. He has played for six major league clubs: the Blue Jays, the Braves, the Reds, the White Sox, the Marlins, and the Yankees. He must be a very likeable character as several teams have re-acquired him through the years despite the existence of many other quad-A outfielders with defence and no bat. The Reds, who drafted him in 1997, got him back in 2005, he spent two separate stints with both the White Sox and the Marlins, and four separate stints with the Blue Jays. The other four-time Blue Jay was Tony Fernandez.

Three of the four stints came in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In 2011, when Mike McCoy was shuttling between Toronto and Las Vegas, DeWayne Wise was on the Toronto-Miami shuttle, shifting between the two teams four times. Take a look at his transactions list in that period (from Baseball-Reference):

June 2, 2010: Granted Free Agency.
June 5, 2010: Signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays.
November 12, 2010: Granted Free Agency.
January 10, 2011: Signed as a Free Agent with the Florida Marlins.
March 30, 2011: Released by the Florida Marlins.
April 6, 2011: Signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays.
June 9, 2011: Released by the Toronto Blue Jays.
June 15, 2011: Signed as a Free Agent with the Florida Marlins.
August 26, 2011: Selected off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays from the Florida Marlins.
October 4, 2011: Granted Free Agency.

I'm not sure if any other player has ever shuttled between two teams that many times in consecutive transactions without involving a third team.

But of course, when Wise retires (he is still listed as an active free agent at the time of writing) he will be remembered for a single play he made on July 23, 2009 while playing for the White Sox. Coming into the game in the ninth inning of Mark Buehrle's eventual perfect game as a defensive replacement for Carlos Quentin, Wise was immediately greeted by a deep fly ball from the bat of Gabe Kapler. Wise made a spectacular over-the-wall catch to rob Kapler of a sure-home run to preserve Buehrle's perfection.

Happy birthday, DeWayne.

Wise Facts

  • In New York and Cleveland, Wise will probably be remembered for a catch that was too good to be true--replays showed that he had clearly dropped the ball in the stands, but he pretended he caught it by pumping his (empty) glove, and the third-base umpire never bothered asking to see the ball. In fact, the actual fan who caught the ball was showing it off. Also: note guy in Blue Jays cap helping Wise up.
  • Playing 70 games for the Blue Jays in his initial stint after being picked up as a Rule 5 draftee from the Reds puts Wise second on the list of longest tenured Rule 5 picks in the organization since 1990. Reliever Aquilino Lopez pitched 90 games over two seasons in Toronto.
  • Wise holds the Blue Jays franchise record for wearing the most number of different numbers: #55, #16, #1, and #3.
  • DeWayne is Wise's middle name. His first name is Garry Jerry Larry. (Side note: wouldn't it be great if the folks at Parks & Recreation renamed Jim O'Heir's character "DeWayne" next season?)