Now that baseball is officially back we can officially get excited again. One of the players I am most excited to watch is arguably the best player on the team currently, Ty France. France took hold of the first base job after Evan White’s injury and became one of the best in the league. What should we expect from Ty France in 2022?
Not to brag, but Ty France was at the top of my wishlist for about 3 years straight. His meteoric rise from a 34th round selection to a rising prospect, then being blocked by Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer, is nothing short of crazy. There were questions about positional fit, many thought he could be relegated to long-term DH.
One thing that is certain is Ty France can hit.
A disciple of the late, great Tony Gwynn, Ty finds ways to put the barrel on the ball. In fact, the year before he was acquired by Seattle he hit all of .399 in AAA, with an absolutely freakish 195 WRC+. There has never been a ton of power, but he provides just enough and is adept at staying gap to gap in the big part of the field.
France had a fantastic shortened 2020 season after being acquired from the Padres. Many people questioned whether it was repeatable because he had posted a .390 BABIP according to Fangraphs. In 2021 he proved that he was here to stay, posting a .291/.368/.445 slash line, and posted a 3.5 WAR campaign.
Zips sees a lot of value and consistency in his first two seasons and expects him to build on it in 2022. They have him projected for a .282/.356/.455 season, with a 123 WRC+ and 21 home runs. This is my favorite projection so far that Zips has done for the 2022 Mariners because I think it is the most accurate.
They see him as a consistent hitter that can likely improve his game in small ways, such as his power numbers. His slugging could go up with more experience, and to me, he seems like a 20 plus home run ceiling. One area where his numbers could fall is his On Base Percentage because he has such a low walk rate and was somewhat dependent on his league-leading 27 HBP.
France ranks highly in several important metrics on Baseball Savant. Although he doesn’t walk at a particularly high rate, France ranks in the 78th percentile in K%. He also ranks in the 69th percentile of xwOBA and the 75th percentile of xBA, all good indicators of a very productive hitter.
Perhaps the most surprising thing he produced last year was his defense. Known as a defensive liability at third and second, France turned himself into one of the very best defensive first basemen in the game. According to Fielding Bible, he was fifth in the league in defensive runs saved, and many believe he should have been a gold glove finalist.
France has the opportunity to be the best first baseman the Mariners have had in a very long time. First base has mostly been a black hole in Seattle, and they have found the right man for the job. His bat to ball skills are fantastic, and his defense being one of the best in the league was the cherry on top.
Look for Ty France to have another rock-solid season in Seattle in 2022. Years and years of Justin Smoak, Daniel Vogelbach, and Adam Lind can hurt you no more. America’s Team has a first baseman. Vive La France.