Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the Top 100 Marlins to ever appear with the franchise; pitchers, position players, Florida or Miami. I used the Wins Above Replacement metric to order the cream of the crop. Today’s Marlin, centerfielder Devon White, earned 4.5 in his time with the team.
White was a 6’1”, 170 lb. switch-hitting centerfielder from Kingston, Jamaica. Born on December 29th, 1962, he was picked initially by the California Angels in the sixth round of the 1981 amateur draft, with the 132nd overall choice. Clearly the best choice of the round, with an eventual career WAR of 47.0, he was one of eight players from that round to play in the major leagues. Also chosen were Mike Pagliarulo (10.6) and Alvin Davis (19.8).
White made his major league debut four seasons later, in 1985 with the Angels. He appeared in 21 games for them, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement or a pinch-runner. He only collected nine plate appearances during that time, going one-for-seven with three stolen bases.
White eventually played six seasons with the Angels, finishing fifth in the 1987 AL Rookie of the Year voting, picking up two Gold Gloves and a 1989 All Star selection. In 612 contests, he hit .247/.295/.389/.683 with 59 homers, 241 RBI, and 123 stolen bases.
After the 1990 campaign, White was traded by the Angels with Willie Fraser and Marcus Moore to the Toronto Blue Jays for Junior Felix, Luis Sojo, and a PTBNL (Ken Rivers). White played five seasons for the Jays, hitting .270/.327/.432/.760 with 72 home runs, 274 RBI, and 126 stolen bases. He also earned five more Gold Gloves and another trip to the All Star game, in 1993.
White was granted his free agency on November 1st, 1995, and 20 days later signed on with the Marlins. Former teammate Joe Carter had a lot to say about White later on, according to the Sun-Sentinel:
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. - Carter
White joined the Marlins for a team-third 146 games in 1996, hitting .274/.325/.455/.779 with 17 home runs, 84 RBI, and a team-best 22 stolen bases. He made four errors in center field, for an NL-fourth .987 fielding percentage, and his nine sacrifice flies also ranked him fourth in the NL. He had 38 multi-hit games through the season.
On May 9th, in a 6-2 Marlins win against the Colorado Rockies, White hit two singles, a double, a triple, stole a base, scored twice and knocked one in. Five days later, he hit three doubles with two runs and two RBI in an 11-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. On June 13th, White hit an RBI-single in the eighth to bring the Marlins to within one runs of the Pittsburgh Pirates, then hit a go-ahead, two-RBI single in the ninth for a 4-3 Marlins victory. White earned four RBI on July 19th, hitting two singles and a homer in an 11-2 drubbing of the Philadelphia Phillies. On August 5th, White hit a single and three doubles, with three RBI and three runs scored as the Marlins dusted the Rockies, 16-9. On September 21st, Florida entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing the Houston Astros by a 1-0 count, then rode back-to-back solo homers by Jeff Conine and White for the 2-1 victory.
He said “Thank You.” - White, relaying Andre Dawson’s reaction to the walkoff win on “Andre Dawson night.”
White was back with Florida in 1997, and hit .245/.338/.370/.707 over an injury-shortened 74 games, with six homers, 34 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. Due to torn cartilage in his left knee, he was forced to sit out all but 10 games through May, June and July. While he played, he had 14 multi-hit games for the Marlins.
On June 4th, White hit three singles and drew a walk as the Marlins defeated the New York Mets, 5-2. On August 3rd, in an 8-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, White hit three singles and a double, stealing a base, scoring twice and knocking in three. On September 1st, White earned five RBI while collecting only one hit, a grand slam home run off Jesse Orosco in a 10-4 win against the Baltimore Orioles.
White only hit .213 through the postseason for the Marlins as they drove to their first ever World Series title, but he did knock in seven runs in total, including these four:
After helping Florida to the Championship, they traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-leaguer Jesus Martinez.
White hit .279/.335/.456/.792 over 146 games in his only season with the D-Backs, with 22 homers, a career-high 85 RBI, and 22 stolen bases (at the age of 35) while making the All Star team for the third time in his career. Later, he played two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (181 games, .267/.330/.402/.732, 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 22 stolen bases) and one year with the Milwaukee Brewers (126 games, .277/.343/.459/.802, 14 home runs, 47 RBI, 18 stolen bases).
White was recently hired by the Blue Jays as their triple-A hitting coach, with the Buffalo Bisons.