Mariners Takeaways: What Ty France learned from a star slugger, how M’s now compare to Padres’ rise
The Mariners haven’t added much when it comes to position players this offseason, but it’s worth pointing out that they may have taken care of that part of their shopping list before the 2020 campaign ended.
Seattle made a blockbuster deal headlined by catcher Austin Nola going to the San Diego Padres just days before the Sept. 1 MLB trade, and while outfield prospect Taylor Trammell caught the most attention out of the Mariners’ haul in the deal, Seattle also got itself a promising bat already at the big league level in Ty France.
The 26-year-old France has MLB experience going back to 2019, but he played just 69 games that year and 43 between the Padres and Mariners in 2020. He’s expected to get more playing time than ever in a full season this year, and he wasn’t about to contain his excitement about that prospect while on with the Mariners Hot Stove Report this week on 710 ESPN Seattle.
“I definitely am (excited) to finally get that full 162 hopefully this year,” he told hosts Aaron Goldsmith and Gary Hill, referencing MLB’s typical 162-game schedule. “Just to have that comfort of knowing this organization wants me and they want me in the lineup every day, it’s a huge boost for me. I’m definitely looking forward to this challenge.”
France, who has played third base, second base and first base so far in his career, will likely find most of his playing time in 2021 at either second or as a designated hitter.
Let’s highlight a few more takeaways from France’s interview.
How do the rebuilding Mariners compare to the Padres?
The Padres are one of baseball’s fastest-rising teams, making the playoffs last season for the first time since 2006. The Mariners’ rebuild gets them compared to San Diego a lot these days, so who is a better person to weigh in on that than France, who spent time with both teams in 2020?
“Definitely, I do see similarities,” France said. “I think I’ve said this a few times, just (from) my short time in Seattle, it doesn’t feel like we’re far off. We have that good core, young group. We’re just missing a couple pieces that I think will really help that this team to the next level.
“We really aren’t far off. The Padres, they’ve done a great job from 2015 on to get to where they are now. It is pretty cool to experience the growth there, and like I said, I really don’t feel like we’re far off here in Seattle.”
Help from a star hitter
France’s time in San Diego allowed him to pick up something from a teammate that knows a few things about standing out in the big leagues. Tommy Pham, a slugging outfielder who has now played in the postseason with St. Louis, Tampa Bay and San Diego, provided France and the Padres’ hitters with valuable knowledge.
“Last year we had brought Tommy Pham over to San Diego, and what he had learned with the Rays was to be stubborn with your approach,” France said. “He came into spring training and kind of said, ‘Hey guys, this is how things are going to be over here. We’re going to be stubborn.’ I really took that to heart and really tried to implement that in my game, and I think it helped me a lot last year.”
Based on France’s statistics – he had a .305/.368/.468 slash line in 2020 – and reputation for strong pitch selection while at the plate, it seems to have been advice well worth taking.
Analytics are a one-way street with France
As a hitter, the analytically-inclined members of the baseball community find France to be an underappreciated player. Not that France pays much attention to it, which led to an entertaining exchange on the Hot Stove Report.
Gary Hill: “We have a couple of analytics guys on the show this week and they are in love with you as a player. They are big fans of you. How much do you lean on analytics, how much do you look at that kind of thing as a hitter?”
France: “I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not a very analytic person. I don’t really look into much into that. I’m kind of more old school and just kind of go out there and play the game. I know it’s a huge part of the new style of baseball but I feel like there’s a lot as a player you can kind of get lost if you’re looking at all of that stuff, so for me I just try to keep it simple and go out and play.”
You can hear the full two-part interview with France in the podcast at this link or in the player below. And don’t forget to catch the Hot Stove Report on Tuesday nights from 7-9 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle and the Mariners Radio Network.