Since the days of yore, first basemen have typically been associated with crushing home runs in the middle of their team’s batting order while offering below-average skills on the defensive side. Think Prince Fielder, Frank Thomas, Jason Giambi, and even the great Lou Gehrig. However, I’m here to make an argument for the defensively gifted first baseman with the capability to hit for power; particularly, let’s talk Evan White of the Seattle Mariners.
I’ve watched a lot of baseball in my day, and I’ve never seen a smoother defensive first-baseman than Evan White. Even in the shortened 2020 MLB season, White took fans’ breath away on multiple occasions with slick plays at first (as seen in the highlights below) that eventually earned him the American League Gold Glove Award in his rookie season.
While White dominates the defensive side of the game, his offense still needs plenty of work. He hit .176 during the 2020 campaign, and had been hitting .144 this season through 30 games before going down with a significant hip injury.
Those numbers are obviously quite poor, but his saving grace at the plate is his ability to launch the ball over the fence; of his 46 career hits, 10 of them have been sent out of the stadium. Also, White is still praised by Mariners management for ending last season in the 95th percentile for hard-hit rate, which can generally be conceived as a sign of good things to come at the plate.
The Mariners’ best hitters over the next several years will be non-first basemen, and that is perfectly fine.
Taking a look at the potential future of Seattle’s lineup, we will likely be seeing Mitch Haniger, Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, and Ty France handle the middle of the order for at least a few years. J.P. Crawford looks great in the leadoff spot, and Cal Raleigh projects as a very solid 7 or 8 hitter who can drive in the middle of the lineup, so projecting Evan White as a 9-hole hitter who can hit 15-20 home runs and provide decent speed on the base paths is a win for the Mariners.
Oh yeah, and he just might win the Gold Glove every single year for the next 7 years.