Ty France could be facing a make or break year with the Mariners in 2024

Following strong back to back campaigns in 2021 and 2022, Ty France struggled to get going in 2023. France slid even more after the All Star Break in Seattle, posting a .680 OPS in the 2nd Half.
Ty France, San Francisco Giants v Seattle Mariners
Ty France, San Francisco Giants v Seattle Mariners / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Ty was acquired in the 2020 Austin Nola trade, when AJ Preller badly needed a catcher at the trade deadline. Jerry was able to leverage the need into multiple pieces, including current closer Andres Munoz, setup man Matt Brash, and starting 1B, Ty France. Since the trade, the San Diego State alum has a .765 OPS for the Mariners, including a 2021 All Star appearance.

In 2023, however, Ty saw his isolated power drop from .162 in 2022 to .116. His K rate spiked to 17.6%, while his batting average dropped to .250. As a line-drive hitter who has no defensive versatility, the Mariners need a .750 OPS from France to continue plugging him into the lineup at first.

Ty France is facing a make-or-break year with the Mariners

Now, Ty has made efforts to remedy the situation by getting the cage and spending time at Driveline this offseason. From the sounds of it, Ty expects the power to return after making some dramatic changes to his swing and approach. France is entering his age 29 season this year, in year two of three total arbitration years.

While the Mariners were patient last year despite the offensive struggles, it's hard to imagine Scott playing Ty at 1B all year if he continues to hover close to a .700 OPS in 2024. When you consider the Mariners are likely to compete for the AL West division crown again, it's also not difficult to envision the Mariners' front office trading for an impact bat at first base if Ty isn't able to return to his 2021/2022 form.

Aside from the Driveline reps, some other positive indicators from last year indicate a bounce back for France. First, Ty had an expected wOBA of .342 despite putting up only a .315 in 2023. He only had a .321 xwOBA in 2022 but finished with a .337 wOBA. His 36.9% sweet spot is encouraging and balances out his weak exit velocity numbers.

While he may never hit more than 25 homers, Ty can hit .280, lead the league in hit-by pitches, and hold it down at first. If he can do that, he's a nice contributor for a Seattle lineup that already has stars in Julio and Cal. I'll take .280 with 20 HR pop, and I'm sure Ty would too. He's got the dad strength this year, after the birth of his first child this week. If that's not incentive enough, he's less than two years from free agency and the free agency experience that ballplayers dream about.