The All-Time Worst Twins: Rondell White
Image courtesy of David Richard, USA Today SportsRondell 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.
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