Vive la France!

How important is Ty France to Your Seattle Mariners in 2021? Critically.

No shade to Mitch Haniger, who remains by the numbers Seattle's overall best hitter to this point, but Monsieur France has been key to the Mariners' ability to end the month of May over .500. As the calendar flips to June, the M's are 28-27, 2½ games behind division-leading Oakland. While France was injured—counting games he tried to play through his wrist injury was well as his time on the injured list—Seattle went 10-19. Quite the shift: .692 win percentage with a healthy France, .357 without him.

With today's clutch game-tying single in the 10th inning, setting up the winning sac fly from Tom Murphy, France has either driven in or scored the tying or wining runs in a game seven times and is most often in the thick of the rallies in other wins. Look at his splits, even when you include the time playing injured:

Bases empty Runners aboard RISP RISP, 2 out
.200/.306/.295 .345/.413/.527 .375/.422/.600 .385/.467/.538

Talk about clutch. Let's see what the numbers are if we factor out the 19 games he was playing so hurt that he could barely hold the bat:

Bases empty Runners aboard RISP RISP, 2 out
.255/.359/.382 .395/.442/.605 .444/.613/.667 .500/.583/.500

Those are astonishing numbers, especially for a second-year big-leaguer. The guy gets aboard and he delivers when it counts most. With the rest of the Mariner lineup scuffling at record low levels—currently the team as a whole is batting .205/.281/.362 with France—it's clear how valuable it is to have at least one guy in the order that the opposition needs to worry about.

The M's are a game over .500 despite having allowed 42 more runs than they've scored themselves. Using Bill James' pythagorean wins formula (based on run differential), one would expect the Mariners to be 23-32, nine games under break-even. Now, a lot of credit for outperforming that mark goes deservedly to the pitchers coming through in close games, but even great pitching needs just enough runs scored to end up with a victory and look at the club's record without a healthy Ty France—nine games under.

Other Mariners have had hot streaks and their share of big hits—your Kyle Seagers, your J.P. Crawfords, your Kyle Lewises—but those guys are intermittent. Despite his great game today, J.P. generally can't hit at home. Lewis has picked things up considerably with a hot couple of weeks, but like last season, he's run hot and cold for stretches. Seager has France-like splits with runners on, but the overall production is, to put it charitably, underwhelming (.218/.289/.436 overall batting line). Meanwhile, no matter what the circumstance, there's France ready to make something happen, whether it's draw a walk to start a rally or drive in a key run late in the game. (Assuming he's not trying to swing with a sprained wrist, of course.)

Look up the term "Professional Hitter" and you'll see a picture of Ty France. Getting this guy from the Padres last year was a coup; getting him as one of four young players with potential was astonishing. Getting those players while simultaneously offloading two of the team's worst relievers was beyond belief.

This is just the first full season in the Majors for Monsieur France. If the M's are smart (I know, how often does that happen, but still), they'll hang onto him for a long long time.

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