Today’s Florida Marlin of the Day is center fielder Devon White. White was a solid base-stealing threat early in his career. He arrived in Florida at the age of 33, but did he have any speed left?
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Devon White was born on December 29th, 1962 in Kingston, Jamaica. A 6’1″, 170 lb. centerfielder by trade, White could play right and left field as well. But let’s face the facts here. He started 1,658 games in center, versus a total of 122 at the corner spots.
White had speed. From early on, it was apparent that his strongest tool was his natural quickness. In 1981, the California Angels spent a sixth round pick on him. It turned out to be a pick well spent.
White spent 10 seasons in the California organization, making his major league debut in 1985 with the Angels. He finished fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year vote in 1987, won two Gold Gloves and made the 1989 all-star team. As an Angel, he slashed .247/.295/.389, with 59 home runs, 241 RBI, and 123 stolen bases in 612 contests.
During the 1990 winter meetings, the Angels traded White with Willie Fraser and Marcus Moore to the Toronto Blue Jays for Junior Felix, Luis Soto, and PTBNL Ken Rivers. It was in Canada that White made a lasting impact.
While a Blue Jay, White won five consecutive Gold Gloves in his five seasons there. He earned enough AL MVP votes to finish 16th in the 1991 balloting, and made his second all-star team in 1993. He slashed .270/.327/.432 in 656 contests for them, with 72 round-trippers, 274 RBI, and 126 stolen bases. He also helped them to consecutive World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993.
Devon White as a Florida Marlin
On November 1st, 1995, the Blue Jays granted White his free agency. Three weeks later, he signed on with the Florida Marlins.
White made his Marlins debut on opening day, 1996, and started 137 times for the Marlins in center field. From May 17th through June 8th, in an 18-game on-base streak, White slashed .333/.405/.594 with 10 extra base hits, eight RBI, and just one stolen base, along with a .999 OPS.
On May 9th, White hit two singles, a double, and a triple, scoring twice and knocking one in as the Marlins defeated the Colorado Rockies, 6-2. On August 5th, in a 16-9 Florida Marlins win over the Rockies, White went four-for-six with three doubles, three runs and three RBI. Going by WPA, though, June 13th was his best game of the season.
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In that contest, a road game over the Pittsburgh Pirates, White struck out to lead off the first inning, then lined out to second in the third. After grounding into a 6-3 putout in the fifth, White’s day was looking pretty pedestrian. Then, trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, with runners on the corners and nobody out, White legged out an infield single to score Kurt Abbott. In the ninth inning, now with the Marlins trailing 3-2, White hit a bases-loaded, one-out two-RBI single to take a 4-3 lead. The score would hold, and White was the hero of the day.
White collected multiple hits in 38 games that season. He ended up slashing .274/.325/.455, with 17 home runs, 84 RBI, and a team-best 22 stolen bases. The bbWAR metric had him at 3.3 wins above replacement that season, ranking fifth on the team behind Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Al Leiter, and Jeff Conine.
World Series Champion Devon White
In 1997, White missed most of May, June, and July with an injury. In 74 games, including 67 starts in center field, White slashed .245/.338/.370, with six homers 34 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. In Miami’s drive for their first World Series Championship, White went 14-for-65 with four doubles, a triple, a home run, seven RBI, and two stolen bases.
After the 1997 season the Marlins traded White to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jesus Martinez. White played a year with the D-Backs, making his third all-star appearance at the age of 35. He slashed .279/.335/.456 for them, with 22 home runs, 85 RBI, and 22 stolen bases.
White then played two seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers and one for the Milwaukee Brewers, stealing 18 bases at the ripe old age of 38.
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