Like every sport, luck plays a big role in baseball. With new statistics like BABIP, xwOBA, and FIP, analysts try to see how much of a given player's actually recorded stats were deserved and how many were due to good or bad rolls of the dice. Who are some Mariners that might see their fortune turn around for the better?
France had a disappointing year following his first All-Star appearance in 2022. After posting a 125 OPS+, he spent this year turning in below-average numbers, slashing .250/.337/.366 for a 99 OPS+. His most significant regression was found in his slugging percentage which decreased by .070 year over year. Since slugging percentage is usually associated with power at the plate, it would make sense for his exit velocity and barrel rates to have decreased as well. Reality, however, tells a different story. Here are a few key power statistics and how they changed from 2022 to 2023.
Average Exit Velocity
Hard Hit Rate
Intrinsically, his batted ball data was actually slightly better. Hard hit rate measures the amount of batted balls that have an exit velocity of 95 mph or more, while barrel rate also takes into account ideal launch angle. France actually improved slightly in both areas and saw a negligible impact in exit velocity.
This shows in his expected stats, which were significantly better than his actual numbers.
If you take the different in expected statistics and factor them into his OPS (it doesn't translate perfectly because of the differences in how BA and OBP are calculated), you'd get an OPS of .777, more in line with his realized 2022 numbers.
It's much harder to diagnose the cause of the problem or why exactly his luck seemed to be so rotten, but it should at least give fans hope that France's can bring things back. With extra time being spent at Driveline Baseball in the offseason, he may even bounce back to an OPS >.800 like he recorded in 2021. At the very least, he'll continue to put his body on the line and lead the league in hit-by-pitches.