Aug 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Jordan Danks (20) hits a go ahead two-RBI single against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. The Chicago White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
As someone who cheers for the White Sox, I would be remiss to mock the thoughts and acts of desperate fans, but it really takes a lot of dissatisfaction with Dayan Viciedo to start getting curious about Jordan Danks playing more. But Viciedo has combined swinging like he was called up this weekend with dropping pop flies like he’s Todd Hundley, so the irritation is understandable.
Danks on the other hand, has hit .353/.389/.549 in the month of August, which has comprised most of his fourth stint with the team this season. Going 3-4 on Tuesday night dragged his season total (a whopping 95 plate appearances) the closest to MLB decency he’s ever been: .261/.316/.420; essentially league-average. In going 3-4, and jamming out a single off Eric Bedard to give the Sox a 4-3 victory over the moribund Astros, Danks also reached base against a major league left-handed pitcher for the first time. Keep that in mind for later.
He’s also someone who has never offered much hope of being able to strike out less than 25% of the time, despite facing almost exclusively right-handed pitching. That’s a pretty significant crimp in the profile which is otherwise not awful. He’s no Jack Parkman, but some natural pop is there (.155 ISO in the minors, .159 this season), and the ball for which REDDICKDUDNMOO is still going. His luck on balls in play is too high (.377 BABIP), but he’s a fast guy and we have to have some faith in his potential to keep that figure above the average (.297) to even start having this conversation.
However, potential is not really the reason to play Danks. He’s 27 years-old: this is probably the high-point. What Danks offers is a promise to stop the madness. He can probably hit as well as Viciedo right now (.254/.295/.412) which is to say he could hit quite poorly, without the defensive blunders or the really slow running during the few times he gets on base. He would even play center field, and remove pressure off the mercurial Alejandro De Aza and probably improve the brand of baseball the Sox play for the final month.
Which harkens back to the questions of “Who cares?” Or since that question has an obvious answer (“Everyone watching the game”), the question would become “should they?” The people who have lost hope in Dayan Viciedo after 1,142 MLB plate appearances don’t deserve to have their patience called into question, but there’s a question of purpose here. The White Sox have shown all the faith in Danks that one might dedicate to a reliable dishrag, optioning him four times over the past two seasons.
Jokes about the ‘White Sox wouldn’t know a decent hitter in their system if he was milling about for six years‘ flow like the Nile, but there are guys the White Sox make a point of giving sustained plate appearances to, there’s platoon-hitting space-fillers, there’s whatever you would call the role Leury Garcia and Eduardo Escobar filled, there’s 50 feet of recycled Miller Lite pint bottles, then there’s Jordan Danks. And the White Sox faith in Danks probably beats out of the rest of baseball.
Worse yet–and again, this is mostly Viciedo’s fault (as are most things)–but the two of them can’t even promise to be that interesting of a platoon, since Dayan’s performance against southpaws has dropped 355 points of OPS since last season. If you took Viciedo’s performance against lefties last season and combined it with his performance against righties this year, you’d have the big leap forward performance that this team desperately needed.
Instead, we have this scenario, where career fourth outfielders are being pondered as alternatives that will spare our eyes and hearts. So play Danks for the month–why not? It could be fun, but it’s the clue you leave yourself as a reminder to get a new left fielder.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan