The Decline of Ty France Has Hit a New Low

Ty France was an All Star just two seasons ago, but now he looks like a shell of his former self. So what exactly has caused his decline?

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 10: Ty France #23 of the Seattle Mariners reacts after striking out during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at T-Mobile Park on May 10, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Ty France is not far removed from reaching the pinnacle moment of his career. He put the league on notice in 2022 by being named a finalist alongside then reigning AL MVP runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the starting first base spot in the 2022 All-Star Game.

That year, France and the Seattle Mariners broke their 20-season postseason drought winning 90 games and clinching an AL Wild Card berth. They also finished as a Top 10 team in both fWAR and wRC+, with France firmly slotting in with Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez as the three best hitters in that Mariners lineup.

Fast-forward to 2024, and the Mariners are coming off of a disappointing 2023 where missed the playoffs, and so far this season they’ve been carried by their world-class rotation because their offense ranks at just 15th in wRC+ and 20th in fWAR as a team.

And through all of this, France has posted an unremarkable .239/.294/.374 slash-line across 177 plate appearances.

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All stats in this article are from prior to gameplay on May 23.

France Has Simply Been a Below Average Hitter in 2024

With that underwhelming slash-line, it’s not an understatement say that France has been disappointing in 2024. While the Mariners currently sit a top the AL West, it’s certainly not due to France and his production.

An average hitter will hit post a 0.0 fWAR and 100 wRC+.

France is posting -0.3 fWAR, which ranks 19th among 24 qualified big-league first basemen this year.

And his below average 95 wRC+ ranks him 16th at the position.

France also saw his OBP drop by a 43 points meaning he is now under a .300 OBP, posting a .294.

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Overall France has been more ineffective than he’s ever been in his career, with declines across the board in most major statistics.

Ty France Offensive Statistics 2023-2024

He has also seen a major uptick in strikeout rate from 2023-2024, as he is striking out 5.5% more this season. His current 23.7% strikeout-rate is very similar to the rates he saw as young and inexperienced major-leaguer in 2019 and 2020.

Ty France Career Strikeout Percentages

All of these statistical drops point back to the fact that France isn’t capitalizing pitches he once thrived on.

Although 2023 wasn’t the kindest to him in terms of hitting 4-seam fastballs, as he only managed to hit .204, he has hit just .160 against them this year. Putting both of these down years into perspective, France hit .310 against 4-seamers in 2022 and .322 against them in 2021.

Another pitch he found himself hitting well in 2023 was the changeup, which he posted a .304 average against. So far in 2024, that total has gone down .167.

And to paint a broader picture of his poor pitch recognition this year, France has seen lower xBA totals in five of the seven pitches that he saw at least 100 times in 2023.

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Ty France Expected Batting Average (xBA) on Pitches Seen 100+ Times by France in 2023.

France has not simply been unlucky, the metrics show early on in 2024 that there is a definite decline in his production between now and last season.

But exactly how far does this decline date back to?

France’s Decline Has Existed Longer Than You’d Think


In 2023, France did not have the same All-Star form he had in 2022, as the Mariners as whole did not look nearly the same in 2023 as they did in their impressive run to the ALDS the year prior.

France struggled to hit like he used to with a 24 point drop in batting average from 2022 to 2023.

And when he did hit, it was certainly not for power, seeing a staggering 70 point drop in SLG, dropping from .436 in 2022 to .366 in 2023.

Further evidence in his decrease in power and solid contact from 2022 to 2023 is also displayed in his drop in home runs. France reached 20 home runs in his career for the first time in 2022, hitting 20 on the nose. He saw that total drop to just 12 a year later.

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And what displays his overall decrease in value was his plunge towards league average in both wRC+ in and fWAR.

France just narrowly eclipsed the rates for an average hitter, posting a 104 wRC+ and a 1.1 fWAR.

Ty France Offensive Statistics 2022-2023

While France still managed to get on base at a similar clip from 2022 to 2023 due to a slight rise in walk-rate, from 5.7% in 2022 to 6.5% in 2023, he also noticed the biggest rise in his strikeout-rate, at the time, since it dramatically dropped in his first full-season 2021.

France’s 2.3% rise in strikeouts from 2022-2023 doesn’t seem overly large on it’s own, but can be viewed as a stepping stone to the more dramatic 5.5% rise in strikeouts he saw from 2023-2024.

And France found himself coming undone a bit more at the plate in 2023, seeing rises in both his chase-rates and whiff-rates.

YearK% (Percentile)Chase % (Percentile)WHIFF % (Percentile)BB% (Percentile)
202215.3% (86th)31.9% (29th)19.3% (89th)5.7% (17th)
202317.6% (77th)33.3% (22nd)21.9 (69th)6.5% (24th)
Ty France Strikeout and Walk Data 2022-2023

2020/2021 to 2022

Even when France put up his lone all-star season in 2022, it was actually a notable step down from his COVID shortened 2020 season split between the San Diego Padres and the Mariners and his 2021 season.

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The reason both France’s 2020 and 2021 need to be compared together against his 2022 is that the COVID shortened 60 game season in 2020 did not give the largest sample size when compared to the usual 162-game season.

In these seasons France was hitting for average, with batting averages above .290 in each season. He was hitting the ball hard with respectable mid .400 slugging percentages in both seasons. And his identical .368 OBP totals indicated he had an overall sound approach and solid eye at the plate.

Then in 2022, again despite his All-Star status, he actually saw drops in every one of these categories along with drops in both xBA and xSLG, most noticeable a nearly 40-point drop in xSLG.

Ty France Offensive Statistics 2020-2022

Is it Time for the Mariners to Evaluate Their Future at 1B?

France’s gradual decline, paired with their mediocrity at the plate as team in 2024, puts the Mariners in a position where a change could be in the cards in order to stay competitive in in the AL West this season as well as in future seasons to capitalize on young core pieces like Julio Rodriguez, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert.

The reigning World Series Champion Texas Rangers only sit 3.5 games back of Seattle before May 23rd’s games, and should be receiving high profile re-enforcements at some point in the coming months in the likes of Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.

And the Houston Astros have been surging of late, moving their way up in the division after a slow start. Given their star-studded roster and run of success for the greater part of the last decade, they’re a team that cannot be taken lightly.

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This means the margin of error is small for the Mariners, and given the strong state of their rotation, which ranks ninth in pitcher fWAR this season spearheaded by George Kirby, Logan Gilbert and Luis Castillo, the emphasis in Seattle should be on capitalizing now.

So if the Mariners plan to evaluate and change things up at first what could they do now and eventually down the road?

Luke Raley

Luke Raley is the most logical answer at the moment given he’s already on the active roster, has appeared in six games at first already, and is having a solid year at the plate.

Raley has cleared France in every major statistical offensive category this season, and has most noticeably shown his overall value as a player with a 130 wRC+ and 0.7 fWAR in 62 less plate appearances than France.

Ty France46177.239.294.374.66895-0.3
Luke Raley39115.300.330.464.7941300.7
Ty France and Luke Raley 2024 Offensive Statistics

The solution here might be a platoon, considering that France hits from the right-side, while Raley from the left.

This would offer France a breather to potentially gather himself as breaks have been hard to come by for him, as he’s appeared in at least 140 games for three consecutive seasons.

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A bit legitimate healthy competition that takes regular game-time away from France might the motivation he needs to reclaim some of his former glory.

Tyler Locklear

Ranked as the Mariners’ eighth-best prospect according to Just Baseball’s prospect rankings, Tyler Locklear could offer a long-term solution for Seattle beyond this season.

And Locklear has looked the part of future big league starting first baseman so far in the upper minor leagues in 2024.

In Double-A this season, Locklear has hit .295 with an on base percentage of .405, and has showcased his 60-grade, plus power by posting a .534 slugging percentage through 38 games and 174 plate appearances.

Now Locklear offers more of long-term solution, as his anticipated arrival in the big leagues should not be expected until 2025. But his play in the minors so far this season should certainly catch the attention of Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners front office, and start the clock on France, should he not be able to return to his 2020-2022 form.

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