Seattle had high expectations for their 2017 first round pick coming up from the minors, so much so that they signed him to a six year, $24 million deal before he even took his first major league cuts. White answered that with a Gold Glove season at first base but failed to produce at the plate. In the fifty-four games he played for the M’s in 2020, the University of Kentucky product hit .176/.252/.346 and struck out eighty-four times. The lack of offensive production was a surprising given White’s offensive numbers in college and the minors. In his final year as a Wildcat, White slugged .637 and hit 10 home runs in fifty-three games. Two seasons later with the Double A Arkansas Travelers he slugged .488 with eighteen home runs in ninety-two games. Overall, in three minor league seasons the Columbus, Ohio native slashed .296/.361/.471. It’s not unusual for young players to face a bit of a learning curve when they’re first called up but White’s drop below the Mendoza line is a steep drop. However, his defensive prowess will keep him in the lineup for Seattle. He was credited with seven defensive runs saved during the 2020 season, two more than any other American League first baseman. White may not have the flash of other young Mariners players but he has still proven himself to be valuable to the club.
The Mariners may see value in White but collectors aren’t so sure. Defensive ability rarely translates in the hobby and White is no exception. The average of his last ten sales is $43.27 which is down 33% from the $64.61 average of the sales surrounding his July 24 callup. While the average price continues to decline though, sales of his 2017 Bowman Draft autograph have held relatively steady. There were actually more of his cards sold in the first month of the offseason than in the last month of the postseason and that number was then equaled in December. In January those sales were then exceeded by 64.7%. This seems to indicate that collectors are willing to cautiously bet that White will be able to improve upon his disappointing rookie batting numbers. It may not be a bad bet, at the right price. White is the Mariners starting first baseman and isn’t going to be replaced soon thanks to his glove. He has also proven on the lower levels that he does have the ability to hit and given the bizarre circumstances around the 2020 season, a number of excuses can be made as to why he underperformed. It is due to his lackluster production that his cards may be a good addition however. Since he finished the season hitting below .200 even an average season at the plate could lead to an increase in card values. As long as he can stay above the Mendoza line his cards may see a slight bump. Where ever White’s card values end up at the end of the season, I would expect them to hold steady there for a long time. He looks like he’ll be a solid contributor to an up and coming Mariners team for a long time and should end up having a very solid career.
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