After quietly bursting onto the scene in 2021, Seattle Mariner’s Ty France has gone from unknown trade addition to potential 2022 all-star.
When the Mariner’s 2021 season came to an end, Ty France had put together the best season by a Mariners first baseman (4.3 WAR) since John Olerud in 2002 (5.2 WAR). France ended the season batting .291 with 18 home runs, 32 doubles, 78 RBI and a team leading 128 WRC+. He also lead the league in times getting plunked by the pitcher (27) much to the disliking of Mariner fans everywhere.
Now 16 games into the 2022 season, all France has done is become arguably the best hitter in baseball this season.
How He’s Done It:
France is fresh off an incredible two game stretch in which he went 8-11 with two home runs and seven RBI. For the year, he’s now batting an impressive .375 with five home runs and 19 RBI and leads baseball in hits (24), OPS+ (237), total bases (42) and is tied with Mike Trout for the league lead in WRC+ (235). Quite impressive for someone as little known as France was just two seasons ago.
Much of this surge to greatness comes from the fact that France has one sweet, sweet swing.
Currently walking a career best 9.5% and striking out a career low 10.8% are impressive, but it’s his overall ability to hit that’s even better. In 74 plate appearances, France is swinging at a well above league average 75.4% of pitches in the zone (66.8% is league average). He’s also making contact on 87.2% of swings on those pitches in the zone (82% is league average). Not only that, he also sports a below league average chase rate of only 27.2%. This has come in especially handy this year with runners in scoring position. In 20 PA with RISP this season, France is hitting .500 with a pair of walks and 14 RBI while only striking out one time.
While it’s one thing to have good plate discipline, it’s another thing to couple that discipline with solid contact. He currently has career highs in exit velocity (89.6 MPH), barrel rate (8.9%), hard contact (42.9%), line drive rate (33.9%), slugging (.656) and OPS (1.116). The only real stat that seems outlandish is his 35.7% HR/FB ratio which will inevitably come back to earth. Well that and his unsustainably high batting average with runners in scoring position. Although he did hit .321 with RISP last year and .442 in 2020, so that pull back may not even be that substantial.
Essentially France’s biggest regression is going to come to his home run numbers. No, sorry, he’s not going to hit 50 home runs. No, he’s probably not going to hit 40 either. But realistically 30 isn’t out of the question. Neither is a batting title. The 2021 batting champ was Trea Turner at .328 which is a number well within France’s capabilities.
What We Can Expect:
In the second half of last season, France hit an excellent .321 in 71 games. So while this year may be a smaller sample size, the way he ended the 2021 season shows this version of Ty France may be closer to the real one than anyone could have expected.
Barring injury, the skies the limit for France at this point. Don’t be surprised to see him end up around .315, 32 HR, 105 RBI at the end of the year with an OBP close to .380. This is going to be a season Mariner’s fans may never forget.