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The All-Time Worst Twins: Rondell White

Last week, I wrote about Butch Huskey and his dubious tenure in a Twins uniform. There have been plenty of other players to struggle during their time in Minnesota. For a team considered small market and owners that have been cautious with their money, there have been some rough moves made to save a dollar or two.

This week's candidate might fit into that category. He played parts of two seasons with the Twins at the end of a 15-year career. He did hit a postseason home run for the club but it wasn't enough to take him away from making this list.
Image courtesy of David Richard, USA Today Sports
Rondell White began his career with plenty of promise. The power-hitting outfielder was taken 24th overall in the first round of the 1990 amateur draft by the Montreal Expos, a pick from the Angels as compensation for free agent Mark Langston. Out of the first round picks that year, White has the fourth highest career WAR behind Chipper Jones (1st overall pick), Mike Mussina (20th overall pick), and Alex Fernandez (4th overall pick).

White was ranked as a top 15 prospect by Baseball America in all four years in the minors (1991-94). He averaged double digits in home runs in each of his full minor league seasons and he showed the ability to draw walks by getting on base almost 37% of the time. He did this while being multiple years younger than the competition in each full season league.

At age 21, White made his professional debut as a September call-up. In his first taste of the big leagues, he showed a little bit of power and continued to get on base over 32% of the time. The next season saw White go back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues before finally sticking as a regular in 1995.

There were multiple stops on the Rondell White Express before he ended up as a Minnesota Twin. On the trade deadline in 2000, he was dealt from the Expos to the Cubs for Scott Downs. He would sign as a free agent with the Yankees in 2001 and a couple years later be dealt to the Padres. His last two stops before Minnesota were in Kansas City and Detroit. Up to that point in his career, he was a .289/.343/.472 hitter and he'd been selected to the 2003 All-Star team.

White had suffered multiple injuries during his career so when the Twins came calling prior to the 2006 season, the idea of becoming an everyday designated hitter sounded good. "I'm really, really excited about [being] in a DH role," said White. Jacque Jones had just left the Twins to sign with the Cubs so the Twins needed to replace his bat in the line-up. The Twins also considered signing Mike Piazza and Frank Thomas.

During his first season in Minnesota, White played in 99 games and collected over 350 plate appearances. He posted the second worst batting average of his career to that point (.246) and got on base less than 28% of the time. For his career, he averaged a .799 OPS but this year he'd be held to a .641 OPS.

Even though he'd been signed to play as DH, he played over 280 innings in the outfield in 2006. FanGraphs calculated his Total Zone rating (TZ) to be 2 runs below average. He saw 161 fewer innings in the outfield in 2007 but he posted the same TZ rating of -2. Over those two seasons he combined for a -1.0 defensive WAR.

White finished the 2006 season strong as he batted .417 with a .750 slugging percentage in the team's ALDS match-up with the Oakland A's. This might have been enough to bring him back for a second trip with the club. The 2007 season was disastrous as he was limited to 38 games and hit .174/.235/.321.

White's time in Minnesota was far from stellar but he wouldn't have made it 15 years in the big leagues without some positive play on the field. Baseball Reference gives him a 28.1 career WAR while FanGraphs is a little less at 24.1. His three best seasons were 1995, 1997, 1998 with WAR marks above 3.0 in all three seasons.

In December 2007 after retiring, White's name came out in the Mitchell Report. It claimed that he used performance-enhancing drugs to try to overcome injuries and stay in the game. He was the only member of the Twins mentioned in the report who had played on the team in 2007. The allegations in the report regarding White all involve conduct before he played in Minnesota.

What memories do you have about Mr. White? Who should be next in the All-Time Worst Twins series? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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15 Comments

Can we stop with these "worst" threads? These are men doing their best, they might have had bad seasons with the Twins, but earnestly worked hard and had comparatively bad results during their stints with the team. It just seems so pointless to try to call them out and talk sh*t about them. So what? Every team has had players that didn't perform/develop as expected. They are all 1%ers that actually made it to a major league roster.

 

    • Thrylos, Heistyman, big dog and 3 others like this
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Comrade Bork
Dec 26 2016 08:10 PM
You had me at that picture of Nishi.
    • LaBombo likes this

They are all 1%ers that actually made it to a major league roster.


This is exactly the point. It takes a special player to reach such a pinnacle, the penultimate level of baseball excellence, to suck so badly and yet last at the peak of expectations of success
    • ChiTownTwinsFan likes this

Nobody gets to the majors by accident. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, it just seems so negative to pick apart someone who didn't find success in the big leagues.  

 

    • Doomtints likes this

 

Nobody gets to the majors by accident. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, it just seems so negative to pick apart someone who didn't find success in the big leagues.  

 

Especially a guy with a 15-season career with nearly an .800 OPS, nearly 200 home runs, nearly 400 doubles... 

    • luckylager, Halsey Hall, Doomtints and 1 other like this

Rondell White was Ryan's fault.One of many players he signed at the very tail end of their careers who failed miserably. 

I think it's worth noting how horribly White started in 2006.  Zero HR and .182/.209/.215 for a .425 OPS over 191 PA, before they mercifully found a way to justify a DL stint in mid-June.

 

Hit a HR in his first game back in July, and compiled a .892 OPS the rest of the season.  That's what got him brought back for 2007 (well, that and his cheap price tag) -- not his small playoff sample that year.

    • LaBombo and Oldgoat_MN like this

Since we are writing about good players signed after their primes who predictably weren't very good, when are we getting the 'Worst Twin:Jason Bartlett' article?

I agree with luckylager my dream was to make it to the pros. I obviously didn't but I can't hate on anyone that has no matter how poor they did. I envy them!
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

On paper the Rondell White signing looked so very promising.

The guy had just finished a season where he had an .837 OPS in 400 PA! I was pretty stoked about the signing.

And, of course, damn disappointed in how it worked out. (though probably not as disappointed as Rondell White)

    • Dantes929 and Vanimal46 like this
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Cody Christie
Jan 01 2017 02:42 PM

 

Nobody gets to the majors by accident. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, it just seems so negative to pick apart someone who didn't find success in the big leagues.  

White clearly had success in the big leagues. He was an All-Star. His time in Minnesota at the end of his career was poor. The point of the series is to look at players that were bad in Minnesota.

 

On paper the Rondell White signing looked so very promising.

The guy had just finished a season where he had an .837 OPS in 400 PA! I was pretty stoked about the signing.

And, of course, damn disappointed in how it worked out. (though probably not as disappointed as Rondell White)

Me too... Back then I didn't know anything about WAR or other defensive metrics. Just looked at BA, HRs, RBI, etc. I was pumped because I thought they finally found a power hitting DH! It's too bad he fell off a cliff as soon as he signed with the Twins. 

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

There are bad signings and then there are good signings that turn out bad. Rondell White would be an example of the latter.

    • Oldgoat_MN and Vanimal46 like this
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AWOLNATION_11
Jan 03 2017 02:58 PM

 

He did hit a postseason home run for the club

 

I have fond memories of Rondizzle.On the way to that postseason game, one of the guy's in our car told me he'd buy me supper if Rondizzle hit a home run that game.Whammy!Free supper!

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
I remember it well. I remember the hype around talking to the Big Hurt or Piazza. Thomas may have actually put us over the top that season, if Liriano stayed healthy.

I also remember the 400 Bar on the West Bank had Rondell White nights on Tuesdays in 2006 where High Life would be the cost of whatever his batting average was that day. Great promotion.

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