#39 - Devon White, OF
Arriving just in time to be a backup part of the bittersweet 1986 season, Devon White was a fabulous defensive outfielder and baserunner who had just enough power to land in the territory of above average. This would be a curse on a series of underachieving Angel teams where despite great numbers, his greatest crime was being someone other than Reggie Jackson.
What he lacked in superstar cache, he made up for with the perfect player nickname of the 1980s: Devo. Imagine if Coldplay Smith came to bat today, how the kids would go crazy - well that excitement rippled through a generation of Orange County youth raised on New Wave music and diving outfield grabs.
Devon White is 20th all-time in franchise history for runs scored, 6th in stolen bases, is tied with Fred Lynn for 21st in Extra-Base-Hits, and is 6th with a 79.7 Power/Speed number (tell me what the hell that is and we will both know, but all the big names are on the P/S# list).
Of White's 7 career Gold Gloves, the first 2 were awarded for play in Anaheim Stadium. His Career Power/Speed Number of 259.8 is 37th best in Major League Baseball History.
On our Top 40 Ballot, Devon White's highest ranking was 30th place, courtesy of Brent Carter, who comments:
"Devo" flashed brilliance at times but to many never lived up to his tremendous potential. Incredibly graceful gait out in centerfield. Management wanted him to shorten his swing and hit groundballs to maximize benefits of his tremendous speed, but he fashioned himself as more of a power hitter. It was good to see him achieve success on the big stage as a contributor to World Champion Blue Jays team.
Now it is time for The Chronicler (from the Chronicles of the Lads Angels blog) to Whip It Good:
How good was Devon White defensively? He was so good that I used to get mad at him when he didn't get to a ball. "Why isn't he trying? Is he hurt? Is he lazy? Is he on drugs? Has his family been kidnapped, and the only way he can free them is to stop catching the ball?" You just got so used to him getting to balls - and he was so smooth and elegant about doing it, too - that you just had to think something was wrong if he didn't get one.
The Angels gave up on him too early, but, to be fair, they thought Junior Felix was about three or four years younger than he really was when they packaged Devo for him. His departure marked a hiccup in what was a tremendous run of great Angel defense in center, one that continued through Jim Edmonds and ended when Darin Erstad got injured in the middle of 2003. Pettis, Devo, Edmonds, Erstad ... those are just tremendous defenders (and it's not like Freddie Lynn was all that bad, either).