Offseason report card and prediction: First Base
First Base was a tale of two seasons for the Seattle Mariners. Let's take a look at the performance at the position this year, and moving forward.
The first base position did not have nearly the rotating cast that some of the other positions on the roster had. Ty France locked down the position from the start of the season, with Evan White still recovering from injury and not showing much at the plate.
It was a tale of two seasons for France, who dealt with many wrist and elbow injuries throughout June and July. For the first two months of the season and most of the first half, France was one of the best hitters in all of baseball. He was selected to the All Star Game at first base, hitting .308/.376/.470 in the first half according to Fangraphs.
He looked like a different player in the second half of the season. While seemingly struggling with a wrist/elbow injury, France slashed just .233/.291/.394 in the second half.
When he went down with his initial injury Seattle needed a replacement and did not have an obvious one on the roster. They pulled the trigger on a low-cost deal with the Kansas City Royals to acquire veteran Carlos Santana.
If you looked at the surface-level numbers Santana doesn’t stand out, but he ended up being a huge acquisition. He hit just .192/.293/.400 in Seattle but blasted 15 home runs including some of the biggest homers of the season for the Mariners. His coming out party was the Blue Jays series in July, where a pair of clutch homers led Seattle to a four game sweep.
Santana ended up being Toronto’s biggest nightmare in 2022, crushing them in the postseason. In Game 2 of the Wild Card series, Blue Jays manager John Schneider brought in e lefty to face Santana, who had hit a big double earlier in the ballgame. Santana took advantage, starting the drive for one of the best comebacks in postseason history.
France will clearly be back next season, but with his injury history, it may serve Seattle well to add another capable bat at the position. Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners’ front office did not commit to Santana but lauded him for the job he did this summer.
The 36-year-old was a great clubhouse addition and had a very interesting Baseball Savant page that warrants consideration for bringing him back next season. Even with his great expected numbers and the shift ban coming into play next season, it is hard to see the Mariners bringing him back.
The first base position was solid for them this season, and even though he struggled in the second half, France had a nice 3 WAR season according to Fangraphs. He will be back, and I expect them to bring a bench bat or a corner OF/first base type to share some of the playing time at the position and protect him from injury.