Last season, Austin Nola was called up to the major leagues for the first time. He started out as a utility player but ended up playing a lot of first base for the Mariners.
When Nola was called up in June, Daniel Vogelbach was the Mariners first baseman, along with DH duties. However, the emergence of Nola, both offensively and defensively, plus Vogelbach on a bad slump after the all-star break, he won the first base position.
Vogelbach only had nine home runs after the break, though he ended up with a team-leading 30 home runs on the season. In July, Vogelbach batted .197, then down to .130 in August. In September, he split the difference batting .161. The Mariners are hoping he will get off to a good start in 2020 or he won’t be around to see the season end.
Austin Nola, on the other hand, played in 79 games and hit .269 with10 home runs and 31 RBI. Not bad at all for someone making his debut after playing in the minor leagues since 2012. Of his 79 games, last season 59 were at first base while he only played seven at catcher.
More than likely, Nola will get most of his playing time behind the plate, although he didn’t start catching in the minor leagues until 2017. He played a lot of shortstops and second, as well as third base from 2012 through 2016.
Now that Evan White is projected to start at first base, this means that Nola may play first base on occasion, as well as backing up at catcher. If he continues to hit as he has, he may play in the other infield positions as well as in the outfield. But with Dee Gordon planning to be in the utility role this season, he won’t get many chances.
He could DH against lefties or they have Murphy on occasion DH against lefties and catch Nola. Whatever the case may be Nola isn’t your usual backup catcher that is for sure. Go M’s.