Ranking the Best First Baseman in Mariners Team History
Mariners Richie Sexson – 4.1
Mariners Ty France – 4.1
Richie Sexson was so much fun to watch. One of the tallest hitters to ever play, Sexson could straight demolish a ball whenever he got a hold of one. I know this wasn’t from the Mariners, but goodness gracious.
That ball reportedly went just over 500 ft, one of the longest home runs in the history of baseball. Sexson never hit one that far, but he did blast a
Grand slam in 2008 against the white sox that went around 470 feet. It was the furthest (that I could find) home run that Sexson hit while on the Mariners. It was his first two years in Seattle where he was more consistently dangerous at the plate. In 2005, his first season with the Mariners, Sexson would put up a 4.0 fWAR, the 6th highest ever by a Mariners first baseman.
He went .263/.369/.541 that year, and actually received some MVP votes If not for some negative years at the end of his career, he would’ve been higher on the list by a few more WAR. All I’ve mentioned so far is his offense, because the defense was really bad. You kind of expect it from a 6’8” first baseman with back problems.
Sexson was a 26.3 on Offense and a -61.3 on defense, which amounts to a 4.1 fWAR in Seattle. Those first two years were pretty great though, with numbers of 42.7 on offense and -23.3 on defense.
He is actually tied at 4.1 with Ty France, a fact that is sure to change as France keeps playing. His bat does seem to be special, and he has a chance, depending on how long he plays in Seattle, to push for the top of the list. He was a 3.5 in 2021, the 10th highest fWAR for a season from a first baseman.
If he can avoid getting hurt from all the HBP’s he takes, he should have a few more entries in the top 10 by the time he finishes up here. Hopefully, a lot more. It’s his defense that confuses me though. You hear it on broadcasts, from fans, and on the internet that France is a great defender. However, you can look at either Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs, and they both have him as a negative. So, what gives? Well, I asked a fellow by the name of Dan Szymborski about it.
"“DEF includes the positional adjustment; pretty much any 1B is going to be negative there.”"
He also told me to look at UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) or BIZ/RZR (Balls in Zone/Revised Zone Rating) instead. It’s a massive thing to know and keep in mind. Yeah, the fact that Ty France has a -4.8 on DEF looks bad… until you realize it’s the best score for any first baseman in the league in 2021.
Thinking about it, it makes sense. WAR is affected more by power than it is by contact. A First baseman usually has more power and has to do less on defense (the ability to scoop a ball is massively underrated, though). So it’s a nice tradeoff to help even out the field.
France led the league in DEF last year for first baseman, was second in UZR, and was 5th in RZR. I say all this to help us all out. France is a great defender and a great hitter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!