Of all the intriguing storylines looming around the Seattle Mariners this season, one of the primary ones may be how second-year first baseman Evan White progresses. There is no doubt, that White’s defense is already at an elite level, becoming the first Mariner first baseman to win a Gold Glove since John Olerud in 2003.
Defense was always considered to be a strong suit of White, but his bat was a lingering question, and his rookie season did little to answer said question. White slashed just .176/.252/.346 and had a hellacious strikeout rate of 41.6 percent. He started to settle in a little as the season wore on and did flash some power with eight home runs, but the bat wasn’t near the level of an everyday player.
Should the Mariners start Evan White on Opening Day?
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So that brings us to the overarching question of whether or not White should be in the Mariner lineup on opening day. He didn’t exactly light it up in the Spring, although he did close strong and led the team with 16 RBI.
But if White isn’t the starter then who is? Jose Marmolejos isn’t exactly an offensive upgrade, and he’s a significant downgrade defensively. Ty France has experience at first, but then you’re forced to insert one of Sam Haggerty or Jake Fraley into the lineup which doesn’t solve the offensive issue.
The simple answer is that White needs to and should be in the Opening Day lineup. Even with the concerns about his bat, he’s the team’s best option at first and there is no one else on the lineup that can come close to matching his defensive capabilities.
The other factor is that White is still very much a key part of the Mariners future. He needs at-bats and he needs opportunities. If this question is still lingering come the 2022 season, then you start to wonder but for right now, it doesn’t make any sort of sense for the team to bench White and he should absolutely be in the Opening Day lineup.