Wait – does Mariners’ Ty France have some wheels now?

Feb 26, 2024, 11:39 AM | Updated: 11:47 am

Seattle Mariners Ty France...

Ty France of the Seattle Mariners runs to first base against the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 12, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Among the highlights from the first weekend of Cactus League play for the Seattle Mariners was the first offensive opportunity of the spring for Ty France.

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It was a good start for the veteran Mariners first baseman, who ripped a shot down the line in left field in the second inning and coasted into second base for a stand-up double (video here).

Normally, the last part of that previous sentence wouldn’t make a baseball fan bat an eye. But with France, an easy, standup double might be notable. He’s never been fleet of foot, ranking in the seventh percentile in MLB in sprint speed at 25 feet per second last season and the sixth percentile the year before, per Statcast.

It’s hard to tell just how fast France was moving on his double before he was able to coast into second, however. Luckily for us, he was able to show off his wheels a few batters later, moving up from second to third on a sacrifice flyout by Josh Rojas. And there’s no disputing that France was moving better than just about any time since he joined the Mariners during the 2020 season.

Want to judge for yourself? Click this link to watch video of France advancing ahead of the throw from White Sox center fielder Luis Robert on Saturday.

Now compare it to this video of him running last season during one of the 25 double plays he grounded into, which was the second-most in all of baseball.

Doesn’t really look like the same guy running, does it? Maybe France isn’t about to steal 20 bases or anything, but it seems pretty clear he’s improved his foot speed over the offseason.

So how?

Notable offseason for Seattle Mariners’ Ty France

An All-Star in 2022, France had a down season last year. He slashed .250/.337/.366 for a .703 OPS with 12 home runs, 117 strikeouts and a 99 OPS+, and every one of those was a career-worst for him when it comes to full-season numbers.

What followed was an interesting offseason that began with Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford declaring at the end of the 2023 campaign that he was bringing France with him to Driveline Baseball, the Kent-based facility that is frequented by big leaguers – and where Crawford had spent the previous offseason before putting together his best MLB campaign at the plate.

Fans were given glimpses of France’s progress through videos over the winter months, and it could be seen that France, who is listed as 5 foot 11 and 215 pounds, was slimming down at the same time he was fine-tuning his swing.

Based on how France has looked early on in spring training, with a quieter batting stance and increased ability to take an extra base with his legs, he’s certainly a player to keep your eye on as a bounceback candidate for the Seattle Mariners in 2024.

More: Seattle Mariners’ Ty France back after drastic offseason of adjustments

Spring training Mariners coverage from Seattle Sports

Notebook: Haniger’s big return, and which M’s can hoop?
Watch: Haniger homers in first at-bat back with Mariners
Drayer: Young bats impress in Mariners’ spring training opener
Mariners Notebook: How will M’s handle the outfield?
Jon Morosi breaks down three big Seattle Mariners concerns entering ’24

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Wait – does Mariners’ Ty France have some wheels now?