This 2021 season has been fantastic for the Mariners to identify players who can be part of a winning core going forward. Perhaps the best development of all was Ty France who cemented his place in the Mariners infield as a first base.
When the Mariners signed a six-year contract with Evan White ahead of the 2020 season, it looked certain White would become the long-term plan at first base. Despite winning a Golden Glove in 2020, White struggled hard with injuries and poor plate production. These struggles opened the door to competition for positions and France seized the opportunity.
Ty France took the opportunity to become a long term step for the Mariners.
Atop ninth place in Friday night’s thrilling victory over Toronto, France made a formidable catch and throw to reduce the green light to the pot. It was the game of the night, and just another example of the player France have transformed into since moving to Seattle in August 2020. His work with Perry Hill has clearly paid off.
At this point in the season, France lead all MLB top bases who have played 500 innings to the defensive run position saved with 3. According to Fangraphs, he also leads the league in UZR / 150, which is the number of points above or below a player’s average for 150 games. His reliability in achieving doubles and managing picks was a big boost to the Mariners Infield defense.
France’s defense had always been in question, with its struggles and lack of reach at second and third bases. Many have wondered if he should be the Mariners’ full-time DH in the future. His first base defensive emergence allows the Mariners to be flexible as they hold the DH position for years to come.
For all the value they brought in defense, France have been even more valuable to the pot this season. It cuts .285 / .358 / .430 in the season and a.316 / .376 / .482 since its activation by the IL on May 24. France also has a WRC + of 135 over this period. Even if you don’t walk a lot, this season is also leading the Majors on a piecemeal basis.
In addition to their strong cutting line, France does a great job of controlling the area. According to Baseball Savant, it ranks at the 80th percentile in Whiff% and the 82nd percentile in K%. Ty was trained in the state of San Diego by the late great Tony Gwynn, who would be terribly proud of the French production so far in 2021.
During his time in the Mariners uniform, Ty France only hit and play. It took a stronghold on the First Basic Job which has been a production black hole in Seattle for most of the past 20 years. However, with the rest of the infield shaking, it looks like the Mariners have found the first base that has eluded them for so long.