Is Mariners slugger Ty France realizing his superstar potential?

Apr 25, 2022, 12:26 PM | Updated: 12:45 pm
Mariners Ty France...
Mariners 1B Ty France celebrates with teammates after scoring against Texas on April 20. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The talk of the Mariners after their 7-2 homestand is undoubtedly their first baseman, Ty France.

3 Up, 3 Down: Red-hot France and more from big M’s homestand

The 27-year-old France is off to a tremendous start for the 10-6 M’s, and he was especially on fire during the nine games Seattle just played at T-Mobile Park. Over that stretch, France went 18 for 38 at the plate (.474 average) with four home runs, 15 RBIs, three walks, a .524 on-base percentage, .842 slugging percentage, and 1.366 OPS.

He even had a five-hit, five-RBI night in a win over Kansas City on Saturday.

France was quite literally the best hitter in the American League over the past week, as detailed by Mariners baseball information coordinator Alex Mayer here, and is one of several Mariners high atop the AL and MLB leaderboards entering Monday. As a result, he was announced as co-AL Player of the Week on Monday afternoon, sharing the honors with Detroit legend Miguel Cabrera, who reached 3,000 career hits Saturday.

France has always had a reputation as a strong hitter, even posting a .399 batting average over 76 games in Triple-A in 2019. But this season, he seems to be showing a different side.

“Ty France, if he learns power – which he seems to be doing right now, he’s on pace for 50 home runs – he’s a superstar,” Seattle Sports Station’s Mike Salk said Monday morning in a conversation with Brock Huard.

That power certainly is showing. With five homers in Seattle’s 16 games, France is just one off the MLB lead and on pace for 50 this season.

That would be quite the jump for France, who hit 18 homers in a career-high 152 big league games in 2021. But with his proven contact skills, even if he hits over 30 homers he could be one of the most dangerous hitters in the majors.

“If Ty France hits 35 home runs, he hits .300 and plays Gold Glove-caliber first base as he did a year ago,” Huard said, “you found just an incredible diamond in the rough.”

France was acquired by Seattle from the San Diego Padres in a midseason 2020 trade, one that continues to look better and better for the Mariners as time goes on. Seattle sent catcher Austin Nola and relief pitchers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla to the Padres, getting France, catcher Luis Torrens, outfielder Taylor Trammell and electric reliever Andrés Muñoz in return.

Trammell was the acquisition that got the most attention when the trade happened, but it’s France who has since jumped to the forefront.

“There was nobody that anticipated this (from France),” Huard said.

It didn’t take long after France came to the Mariners for comparisons to Hall of Fame designated hitter Edgar Martinez to come up, and it’s something Huard revisited while also advocating for the Mariners to make France the next player they sign to an extension.

“He’s got an Edgar-esque just approach and swing and eye. There’s a lot of Edgar in Ty France – that I see,” Huard said. “And I know it’s only been about a year and I know he went through a little swoon with an injury last year, but my goodness.”

Responded Salk: “I that’s a fair comp, to be honest with you. I don’t think you’re saying anything crazy to say that the approach is similar.”

You can hear the full conversation from Monday’s edition of The Mike Salk Show in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.

The American League West-leading Mariners continue play Tuesday when they open a road trip at Tampa Bay (9-7). Radio coverage will be carried by Seattle Sports Station 710 AM, the flaghship of the Mariners Radio Network, starting with the pregame show at 2:30 p.m.

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Is Mariners slugger Ty France realizing his superstar potential?