Is it time to platoon Ty France?

Mariners' first baseman is struggling at a critical point in the season.
Seattle Mariners v Chicago White Sox
Seattle Mariners v Chicago White Sox / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Baseball is an interesting sport in the fact that, on the surface, it is considered a team game, but it is driven by individual success. Consequently, people don’t point out the struggling players when the team succeeds. However, fans always gravitate to a scapegoat when the team is dropping winnable games. That brings us to today, September 5th. The Mariners are in a playoff chase, and dropped three of their last four games on a pivotal road trip.

Who’s to blame? Jose Caballero for being thrown out in the ninth, effectively ruining a comeback against the Mets? George Kirby for getting shelled by a suddenly hot Pete Alonzo? Bryan Woo for giving up a five-spot against the Reds? OR how about superstar Julio Rodriguez for leaving five runners on base yesterday in a very winnable game? If you look at your X feed today, right or wrong, the answer is Ty France.

The 29-year-old first baseman was a 2-win player last year and made the All-Star team. The slash line was a solid .274/.338/.774, amounting to a 125 wRC+. He was a steady presence in the top third of the Mariner lineup, providing some clutch hits for a team that finally broke the 21-year playoff drought. But a concerning thing happened last season; France slumped immensely after the All-Star break, effectively becoming a replacement-level player (103 wRC+). That performance could be the 22 HBP or his wrist injury in Oakland. Either way, his 2022 performance could have been better and aligned with the offensive profile of a major league starting first baseman.

Fast forward to this season, where France is a 0.6 WAR player offering serious splits that scream "platoon me."

Splits

PA

H

BA

OBP

SLG

vs RHP

439

90

.237

.337

.350

vs LHP

121

35

.310

.355

.460

He is still an above-average bat (109 wRC+), but there a some additional factors at play that show a player in need of major adjustments. For example, the Ty France Fan Club might point out the 29 HBPs as adding additional value, and while that’s true, his lack of speed is hurting the team in big spots (24 GDP).

Manager Scott Servais is putting France in the right spot in the lineup (7th), but there is probably one move they can make to ensure they stay in the race for the AL West crown. Start running Dominic Canzone out at first base a few days a week. Canzone played first base and the outfield at Ohio State University and handled the cold corner in 41 games this year for the Reno Aces. The 26-year-old lefty has a better hit tool and is swinging a hot bat right now, batting .278 with six long balls and a .844 OPS over these last 21 games.

With Jarred Kelenic on the mend, Servais must send Cade Marlowe or Sam Haggerty to Tacoma. That still will leave him with five capable outfielders, which makes platooning France a little easier. Could you do us all a favor? Sit Ty for a bit, allow him to work on some adjustments, and let Dom play first base. I’m pretty sure it’ll be better than putting a scapegoat label on a guy struggling to live up to the back of his baseball card.