This is one cool little card – not only is it an on-card auto, it’s TWO on-card autos; Marty Cordova is on the reverse. It’s also silvery and super-shiny. I chose it for today’s post partially for that fact, and partially for wanting to figure out just what happened to Rondell White. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the guy wasn’t abysmal, but he certainly didn’t live up to the billing he was given. In 1994, he was in the top ten prospects for Baseball America. Other players in that group included Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones, and A-Rod (who was behind Cliff Floyd of all people – he occupied the #1 spot). He was ranked ahead of players like Derek Jeter, Derek Lowe, and Billy Wagner. He had earned it, too. Aside from his 1991 Sally league campaign, he had maintained an OPS above 800 at every stop. He looked like a sure thing until he hit the majors in 1993. Even then, he performed about how you would expect for a 21-year-old rookie.
In fact, he ended up having a good career. His OPS+ rarely dipped below 100, and his career WAR was 26.1, which puts him alongside players like John Kruk, Hal McRae, and Bob Boone. Certainly not a HOFer, but not that bad. The thing is, though, White was projected for so much more, and I know lots of fans of teams where he played that despised him. Welll…there was the whole steroids allegation, which I guess I could see when you look at how wiry he was as a rookie. But the real issue? Injuries. Man, did the guy injure himself. In fact, let’s look at his injury history.
His first injury was in 1996, when he slammed into a wall in the outfield. The next one came in 1998, when he broke his finger. 2000 – strained right hamstring. 2002 – sore shin, dislocated finger. 2004 – strained right hip flexor. 2005 – dislocated left shoulder that led to surgery. He was never the same after this one. In fact, if you look at his entire career, he only played a full season once – 1997, when he got 151 games in. That was also his greatest season.
So, yeah. A promising career pretty much derailed by injury. It’s still entertaining to look at his old cards and reminisce, though. If he was a Bob Boone with all those injuries, what could he have been without them?