Florida / Miami Marlins History: Appreciating Devon White

With the offseason in full swing, we have a little time to look back on Marlins history.

When center fielder Devon White first joined the Florida Marlins, he was coming off seven American League Gold Glove Awards in his past eight seasons, including the last five-in-a-row for the Toronto Blue Jays. Prior to that, he was a mainstay for the California Angels. Before his Marlins career started, he had already appeared in over 600 games for two different franchises.

Who likes their speed with a little power? Everyone does. White came through in spades after signing with the Marlins through free agency for three years and $9.9 million. A 33-year-old at the time of the deal, then Marlins General Manager Dave Dombrowski was pointed in his reasoning. According to the Lakeland Ledger:

We felt we would not make these type of moves until we were in a position in which we could put out a competitive club which we feel has the chance to compete in postseason play.

Marlins

7 Mar 1997: Center fielder Devon White of the Florida Marlins. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport

White joined the Marlins fo their 1996 season, a year in which they posted a then-franchise-best 80-82 record. He played in 146 games and led the team with 37 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 28 attempts. He also clubbed 17 round-trippers and scored a team-third 77 runs. White posted a .274/.325/.455 slashline, with a 106 OPS+.

Although White did not win the Gold Glove in his first National League season, he still proved able to man center field with the best of them. He made five outfield assists and rated as nine total zone fielding runs better than the league average in 1200 2/3 innings. Former teammate Joe Carter was quoted at the Sun Sentinel about White moving to the N.L.

I’m just thankful he’s in the National League. I didn’t want him running down our stuff. His strides are like four yards long, he just outruns the ball. He’s like a greyhound out there.

White missed three months of the 1997 season with an injury, and only played in 74 contests in total. When healthy, he hit .245/.338/.370 with six home runs and 34 RBI. He stole 13 more bases in 18 attempts. Defensively, he put up essentially the same metrics when adjusted for playing time. An identical to 1996 .987 fielding percentage, four outfield assists, and 10 total zone fielding runs saved when prorated to a 1200 inning season.

The postseason would see White appear in all 16 contests, and go 14-for-65 with seven walks, four doubles, a triple, and two stolen bases. He also accounted for four of his seven playoff RBI in the final game of the NLDS versus the San Francisco Giants on one swing of the bat (and dig those uniforms).

After the Marlins took the trophy home, White was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jesus Martinez. White made the all-star team in his only year in the desert, and later played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers.

At the conclusion of his career, White had played in 1,941 major league games and collected 1,934 hits, including 208 home runs. He stole 346 bases while getting caught only 98 times, a 77.9 percent success rate.

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