The spiraling trend of Ty France's production

Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners
Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Ty France is down to hitting in the bottom third of the lineup. After being a mainstay at the top for the last several seasons, he is one of the biggest culprits of the Seattle Mariners’ disappointing 48-48 start to the season. 

Playing in 93 of the teams’ 96 games, at least he has been available, but he also has been worth just 0.6 bWAR, on pace to be below an average player in the league in terms of production. Nearly all of his stats are the worst they have been since his rookie season, an utter disappointment for a player looking to lead a team to another postseason appearance. 

Apart from his rookie year, his batting average (.249), on-base percentage (.319), slugging (.373), OPS (.692), OPS+ (96), HR% (1.8), BB% (5.1) and more are all the worst of his career. After three straight seasons with an OPS+ above 124, his production has fallen off the cliff, seemingly out of nowhere. 

One of his biggest skills over the previous three years has been his uncanny ability to make contact, even in two-strike counts. While he has never been the best at walking, he usually puts the ball in play. In 2023, his walk rate is down even further as he is in the 8th percentile, and his whiff rate is up as he is in the 62nd percentile in whiff %. 

He has lost his eye at the plate, chasing outside the zone at a much higher rate. With a 15th-percentile chase rate, he is one of the biggest culprits in the league for failing to control the zone. 

France has been struggling specifically with the sinker, being worth a -7 run value against the pitch in 85 plate appearances. He also has gone from producing a run value of 9 against the slider in 2022 he has put up a run value of -2 on the pitch in 2023. The biggest culprit of his struggles has been his approach at the plate. It may be healing complications from several arm and wrist injuries over the seasons. 

The only positive to come out of the 2023 season has felt like France getting his first career stolen base. Maybe France is adopting a speed-threat playstyle rather than being an on-base machine, or his struggles are relatively unexplainable. 

Moving down in the lineup is the wake-up call that France needs to find his previous production. With the Mariners still in the hunt for a playoff push, they need him to find his form to make up the ground.