Breaking Mariners: Ty France edition

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As the screenings for the 2021 season start to arrive, we’re kicking off a new series here at the site where we take a screening for a specific player and two staff members advocate for each over and underperforming player on said screening. . Since we do not have all the projection systems currently available, we will note them when they are available, but our discussions revolve around an internal decision on what we believe to be the “breaking point” for. the projection of this player, a figure arrived at by negotiation and the contribution of the staff which comes closest to the ceiling of one writer and the floor of another. If there’s one player you would particularly like to see covered in this series, drop them in the comments and we’ll do our best to accommodate all of those requests. In case you missed the first entry in this series, on Mitch Haniger, check it out here.

Player: Ty France

France had been in the Padres system since 2015, when San Diego drafted it in the 34th round as a local child of the SDSU. Despite being a lesser-known player in the Padres’ noble system, France have done exactly what you need to do as a late rookie to stay professional ball: he hit, hit and kick. Everywhere he went he knocked. The lowest wRC + France ever for minors was 104, following a mid-season promotion to Double-A, a level that can stumble even the most promising prospects. Despite its performance, France got stuck in a stacked San Diego system and was therefore distributed to Seattle as part of the Austin Nola deal. At the time of the trade, France were beating almost .500 with a wRC + of 137, and while his production dipped slightly after arriving in Seattle, he still finished the season with a slash line of .302. / .362 / .453, well enough to slip into the Top 10 Mariner Performance of the Year by bWAR. ZiPS plans him to continue on that track in 2021, and actually be the most valuable Mariner hitter next year.

Projection ZiPS 2021: 112 OPS +, 2.6 zWAR, .268 / .335 / .437; Steamer .6 WAR

Breakpoint LL: 2.2 WAR

Take over: Tim

In 2019, FanGraphs ranked Ty France 29th in the San Diego system, behind luminaries such as Andres Muñoz (24) and Nick Margevicius (23). Also, eh, we surely caught a lot of prospects from the Padres. He wasn’t even ranked in 2018, which was right after a 2017 where he looked just good in A + and AA. After absolutely scorching stretches at AA and AAA in 2019, he essentially fell victim to the Padres traffic jam (thanks, Machado and Hosmer) and found himself almost unable to tackle bats in a range of Padres. stacked even with DH space available. in 2020. But the Padres’ high-quality offense isn’t Ty’s fault, and while he benefited from the PCL, you can’t exactly fake a 0.770 (!) or 196 slugging percentage. wRC + (!!). Those numbers put him head and shoulders above the entire league, and after sporadic appearances with the Padres for two seasons, he rewarded the Mariners and Padres in 2020 for giving him a chance with a 132 wRC + between them. two organizations.

And how does he do this damage to the plate? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before about a Mariner: it chases fast balls to the heart of the plate and avoids unwanted throws.

Hey, does this model sound familiar to you? Here you go, look at this other Mariner who was acquired as a strange man from another organization and quickly broke up in Seattle.


The raw values ​​are different, admittedly, but the pattern is the same: walk away from bad and horrible things and hit the really good things. This is probably starting to explain Savant’s numbers in France, as it doesn’t boast very good output speed or hard-hit numbers – and yet has some out-of-the-ordinary numbers for xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG. Will France offer a BABIP .390 in 2021? Almost certainly not. But the tools are there, and his swing decisions make him an extremely valuable bat in a lineup of Mariners in need.

Of course, for it to hit 2.2 WAR it has to either be a top-5 DH (Luke Voit, in 2019 released 1.7 fWAR on 510 PA with a 126 wRC +, to give you an idea) or provide some sort of field value (again, to give an idea, 2019 Whit Merrifield posted 2.9 fWAR with a 110 wRC + and terrible defensive numbers – but it took her 735 PA to do so). But I’m relatively confident that France, while he never turns into Dee Gordon, can turn into something like Shed Long on the defensive the more time he spends with Perry Hill. If he can make those improvements to his fundamentals, there’s more than enough in the bat to easily erase the 2.2 WAR mark.

Take the sub: Kate

Let me start by saying: I love watching Ty France aux bats. Remember how much we enjoyed Seth Smith at-bats in 2015, each including a tall glass of fresh milk with which to quench the fiery aftertaste of the most recent appearance of Zunino’s three-leaked plate? Ah, the taste for professionalism. This is really how Ty France operates on the plate, although it was built along the right-handed slugger lines so coveted by Jack Z. France has never run a K% greater than 20% in its MiLB career, and while that percentage has approached the mid-twenties in a relatively brief MLB sample over the past two seasons, he has both reduced his strikeouts and increased his walk rate during his second MLB apple bite.

However, I have a few … concerns about how France’s scorching numbers for 2020 came in (to say nothing of its minor league numbers; San Diego affiliates play in some of the most bouncy houses in the world. minors, from the California Batting Friendly League at the El Paso launch pad). Setting aside a BABIP close to .400 for now, there is this, in his Statcast issues:


Again, we’re not concerned about the K-BB numbers at this time, banking on its strong trim discipline among minors. What these numbers show is a player who is above average at making good contact – shown not only by his above average% Barrel, but also by a 10 higher “Sweet Spot” percentage. points to the MLB average – but that just doesn’t hit the ball hard at all compared to his MLB peers.

“But Kate,” I hear you say, “you always talk about how much you love a successful tool! That’s right, my friends, I do. I love a contact monster. However, with France’s defensive limits, that means there has to be some significant thud in the bat as well, and despite that much-heralded .770 SLG mark in 2019, thanks in large part to the Triple-A bunny and to El Paso’s bloated attacking environment, and some good ISO numbers in his MLB career so far, the disappointing, hard-hit numbers don’t sell me on the power that resists after pitchers have had time to adapt and plan their game against France, and that opposing teams are able to line up more sophisticated. defensive changes against him. A positive step France has taken to tackle the fact that in 2020 hitting more line readers and reducing its ground ball rate, although, of course, small sample size issues apply, as with everything related to 2020.

And as for that “contact monster” designation, I’m not sure it applies here, yet. France swings more often than the average player on zone pitches, and yet makes contact with an average amount, and in fact makes pursuit contact worse than the average MLBer (although, again, encouragingly , when France continued outside the zone in 2020, it made contact more frequently than in 2019). There’s still plenty of time to figure out what Ty France is all about, and when it comes to release speeds aside, it’s easy to see why ZiPS is so high on a player who has the most important skill for a player. baseball player: the ability to hit. Currently, however, I see a profile of a tweener both offensively and defensively, and if I bet on the Mariners’ best hitter for next season, France takes precedence over several other names (aging but still productive Kyle Seager, a surprising delight. Dylan Moore, a princess-level power hitter, rebounding Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis?) on my personal list. Looking forward to seeing his five-game winning season prove me wrong!

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