Sarah's Take: Devon White
Before Kevin Malone signed Devon White in November 1998, he was an excellent center fielder with decent offensive skills. Since then, White has been barely adequate in both offense and defense. During the 2000 campaign a partially torn rotator cuff and a pulled quadriceps muscle limited his playing time considerably. Although White’s age and performances in 1999 and 2000 have indicated that he will be a better player off the bench, he has not been ready to accept that role. His salary of $5.5 million does not belong to a bench player either.
Devon White has had a long distinguished career that is reaching its end. Starting in 1985 at the age of 22, White has played in the major leagues for the California Angels, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Florida Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers. He compiled seven American League gold gloves from 1988 to 1995. He was a member of the 1992 and 1993 World Champion Toronto Blue Jays and the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins. His career batting average of .263 with 194 home runs, 799 RBI, and 328 stolen bases is decent. Because he has led off most of his career, he is among the leaders in major league history in lead-off home runs.
In 2000 White was limited by injuries. Even when healthy, White rested half the games because Davey Johnson believed White performed better with frequent rests. In April he hit .316 in twenty games. After two hitless games in May White made a diving catch and partially tore his rotator cuff. Johnson blamed the media and the Dodger fans for White’s injury because they both criticized White for not making a genuine effort defensively. Though the injury did not require surgery as at first feared, it kept him on the disabled list until the end of July. In six games in July he batted .261. The acquisition of Tom Goodwin on July 31 might have limited White’s playing time. In August he played eighteen games because he platooned with Goodwin. At the end of August he pulled a quadriceps muscle. This injury hampered his running and prevented him from playing in September. In 47 games he batted .266 with four home runs and thirteen RBI. While walking nine times, he struck out thirty times. His on-base percentage was .310, low for a major leaguer. Using him as a lead-off hitter earned him more criticism by the media and fans than he should have gotten.
In the past White’s defense was his strength but not now. Though for an almost 39-year-old he is still fast with his long loping gait, he has lost a step. He plays deep to prevent balls going over his head, so he allows many singles to fall in front of him. This leads to many runs being scored unnecessarily. For the first time since 1987 he had poorer range than the league’s average. White has never had a strong arm, but it has gotten weaker. In forty games he had two assists and two errors.
Devon White has had a great major league career, but it is approaching the end. He would be an asset to any team with several young outfielders. The Dodgers have experienced outfielders and need to lower their pay roll. The Dodgers will almost give him away if any team wants him.