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WYMAN AND BOB

How offseason for Mariners’ Ty France looked at Driveline

Feb 28, 2024, 12:49 PM

Seattle Mariners Ty France...

Ty France of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his three run home run on March 30, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

A big storyline of the upcoming 2024 season is how Seattle Mariners first baseman Ty France will perform after a very different offseason for the veteran hitter.

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

France has had a very nice career to this point since debuting with San Diego in 2019, and he’s been one of the Mariners’ top hitters since being traded to Seattle in 2020. He put together a strong year in 2021 and was an All-Star in 2022.

But France never quite clicked at the plate in 2023. Despite appearing in 158 games, France had just a 0.7 WAR while posting the lowest numbers in home runs, extra-base hits and RBIs out of his three full seasons with the Mariners.

Rather than doing what he usually did, which was work out on his own, France took a different path by going to Driveline, a baseball facility in Kent, Wash., that’s popular among big leaguers. That came in large part because France is very close with M’s shortstop J.P. Crawford, who went to Driveline last offseason and had a career year for Seattle in 2023.

Tanner Stokey, Driveline’s director of hitting who worked closely with France this winter, joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday to provide a look into France’s offseason.

“In this specific instance with Ty, he was in here three different times during the offseason, (and we were) talking pretty much every every day in between then,” Stokey said. “But all in all, he spent something like 15, 16, 17 days here over… I want to say it was beginning of December to the end of January.”

Offseason focus for Seattle Mariners’ Ty France

That work began with a deep assessment, which involves hitting pitches, lifting weights and doing different exercises. Driveline then looks at biometric data and other statistics to formulate a plan of attack for the player.

“With a guy like Ty, who you would say has a pretty good hit tool and he’s been a successful hitter his whole life, he is pretty unique. He has a pretty unique swing as far as movement patterns goes,” Stokey said. “But with a guy like that who’s already a good hitter, it’s less about making big changes. It’s more about small tweaks that are going to help increase that margin for error. So on one hand, let him be that successful type of hitter doing the things he’s always done, but with him it’s like looking for little ways where you can kind of tighten up the mechanics a little bit to maybe clean up some of the hole (in his swing). More specifically, let him do what he does best – put the barrel of the bat on the ball – and honestly looking to just do more damage.”

A big part of that work was keeping France’s barrel in the strike zone for longer, which allows for more wiggle room and margin of error.

“With Ty, he’s obviously been a very good hitter, but with the swing mechanics we had, they were more or less inefficient and his barrel had a very small window where he was in the zone matching the pitch plane,” Stokey said. “So something we were looking to do with him was clean up some of the mechanics to get him to use his body a little bit more efficiently.

“But the ultimate goal with that was we wanted to get his barrel on plane with the pitch deeper in the zone and be able to maintain his posture to keep his barrel on plane further out in front. So that way when he’s late, he’s able to make quality contact and go to the opposite field like he’s done well for the majority of his career. And it’s also going to help him do a little bit more damage when he’s out in front to be able to pull the baseball in the air.”

Listen to the full discussion with Driveline’s Tanner Stokey at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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• What Scott Servais said about four key Mariners hitters
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How offseason for Mariners’ Ty France looked at Driveline