Ty France might not be the Mariners of the future first goal, but he’s their guy right now
Due to the expiration of the collective agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, the owners have invoked a player lockout that includes a freeze on all transactions involving players on the teams’ 40-player rosters. . Without any news, The Seattle Times will conduct a job-by-job assessment of the Mariners’ organization at the start of a 2022 season filled with expectations of success.
Over the past 20 years, dating back to the last time the Mariners played in the playoffs, there have been series of seasons where specific positions have resulted in inconsistencies and a lack of production.
For a while, left field was considered the known problem. Since 2000, the Mariners had 18 players totaling more than 200 home plate appearances while playing 60% of their games in left field – only four produced a Baseball Over Substitute (WAR) benchmark of 2.0 or higher. – Raul Ibanez (2004, 2006, 2008), Randy Winn (2003) and Stan Javier (2001).
Similar issues and more turnover persisted at shortstop after Alex Rodriguez left before the 2000 season. But there were at least seven players with WAR plus-2.0 seasons.
And of course, the Mariners’ receivers have received quite a bit of derision since Dan Wilson’s retirement with only Mike Zunino (2017), Kenji Johjima (2006) and Omar Narvaez (2019) providing over 2.0 WARs in one season.
But really first base, a position that’s supposed to provide energy and run production based on typical line-up / roster build, has delivered horrendous results for the Mariners over the past 20 seasons.
Before Ty France produced a WAR 4.3 in 2021, no Mariner who played primarily first base had a WAR of at least 3.0 since Richmond Lockwood Sexson’s WAR 3.9 in 2005.
Or to put it from a different perspective, in four seasons and 509 games with the Mariners, Sexson has totaled 5.5 WARS. In five seasons and 496 games, Justin Smoak produced 1.4 WARs. France played a full season and a shortened 2020 season month with Seattle and produced 4.8 WARs in 175 games.
Perhaps that is why Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto was comfortable saying France would be the Mariners’ daily first baseman in 2022.
“Ty is going to start the season, and he’s going to play first,” said Dipoto. “He deserved it.”
The 2022 season
When Dipoto and Director Scott Servais met and convinced Mariners President and Managing Partner John Stanton and other members of the Ownership Group in September 2018, convincing them to embark on an abbreviated rebuild, often referred to as’ The Step Back France was not even part of the organization.
And even when Seattle acquired France with outfielder Taylor Trammell, receiver Luis Torrens and reliever Andres Munoz in a trade with the Padres on August 31, 2020, he was not expected to be the first player. everyday starting goal of the team when he would eventually make the transition. from reconstruction to the winning phase.
This job was supposed to belong to Evan White.
Do you remember Blanc? The once heralded hope, who signed a six-year, $ 24 million contract ahead of the 2020 season despite never playing a big-league game.
With club options that could push the deal to nine years and a total of $ 55million, White was meant to be the first goal scorer of the future and a vital part of the rebuild.
“Evan White stands out in a lot of ways,” Dipoto said. “We love the player and we love the person. The combination made it very easy to want to sign him for most of the next decade. “
France, who mainly played third in college with “hitter” being their best position, have considered themselves a candidate to replace Kyle Seager as a full-time third baseman in 2022.
While White won a gold glove at first base in the cropped 2020 season, he struggled at home plate, posting a slash line of 0.176 / 0.252 / 0.346 and hitting at an alarming rate of 41, 6%.
A hopeful rebound season in 2021 that featured a simplified approach to the plate never materialized when he suffered a hip flexor injury all the way to first base on May 14. The injury never seemed to improve and required end-of-season surgery. White has played a total of 30 games, posting a slash line of 0.144 / .202 / .237 with a strikeout rate of 29.8%.
France have essentially taken over as a full-time first baseman on their return from the injured list.
His season – a .291 / .368 / .445 slash line with 32 doubles, a triple, 18 homers, 73 RBIs and 27 hits – has exceeded expectations. Based on Weighted Runs Created (wRC +) – a metric used to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs against the league average with park effects with 100 being the average – the 137 France’s wRC + was the Mariners’ third-highest first baseman since 2000.
But it wasn’t just France’s offensive that led Dipoto to place him in the first place. With the help of infield guru Perry Hill, France have become an outstanding defensive first baseman.
So what does this mean for whites?
Well, he fully recovered from the operation and resumed his baseball activities. The Mariners are hoping he’ll be ready for spring training, where he should do a few reps in left field.
“We’re going to take it as we go along with Evan,” Dipoto said during the CEO’s meetings. “We still think he’s an extremely talented player. In Kentucky and with Team USA, he played on the field. Much like the Dodgers did with Cody Bellinger, it just introduces you to the potential for plaque appearances. Having the versatility to play in three different locations on the pitch gives us the chance to maximize the opportunities for Evan.
The versatility of positions won’t keep White in the big leagues if he’s still struggling at home.
Some in the organization and outside scouts believe the Whites should start the season in Tacoma AAA class. He basically skipped playing at this level after signing extra time.
Last spring he worked hard to simplify his approach and stop focusing on trying to hit the ball in the air and just hitting the ball hard. He never had a full season to implement it. Trying to do it at the Triple-A level makes more sense.
White is on contract until 2025, so there is still time for him to become a contributor. France are also under team control until the 2025 season. This gives Dipoto options, especially if Blanc can show some aptitude and consistency in the plate. If White forces his return into consideration for day-to-day work, Dipoto could certainly trade one of them to meet other needs or bring France back to third base.
It could also depend on who the Mariners add this offseason to. If they add Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, or Seiya Suzuki, the equations in the list change. But it’s clear White won’t be on the major league roster if he can’t contribute offensively.
There is also a scenario where Dipoto is forced to add a first baseman as an impact hitter if he cannot get a third baseman, second baseman or outfielder to fill that role.
The Mariners haven’t acquired Ty France to be their first goalscorer of the future, but with their current roster he’s their best option at the moment.
MLB: Ty France
Tacoma Class AAA: Evan White, Joe Rizzo
Class AA Arkansas: Jake Scheiner, Bobby Honeyman
High-A Everett: Connor Hoover
Modesto serious: Robert Perez, Ben Ramirez