France had a tremendous contact rate for pitches in the strike zone
He took walks at just a 4.5 percent clip while striking out 24.4 percent of the time. It’s no secret that the Padres, collectively, struggled in the latter department last season. France played 21 and 36 games at second and third base, respectively, last year and played error-free ball, for what it’s worth.
Had he qualified, his 85.2 percent contact rate for pitches in the strike zone would have put him with the likes of Juan Soto, Paul DeJong, and J.T. Realmuto. For a team looking to reduce the number of strikeouts, contact rate is an underrated statistic. The problem for him, based on last year’s stats, is that he rarely puts the barrel to the ball, connecting in just 5.9 percent of the pitches he saw.
As a result, he was mostly a groundball hitter (43.4 percent). And while it would seem that third base is where he’s most comfortable, is there a reasonable assumption that France could be the everyday second baseman?
I don’t think it’s out of the question given the way the other candidates performed in the limited spring training. He’s more than proven himself at Triple-A El Paso, posting a .399/.477/.770 line, which suggests that he’s progressing into an extra-base hitter as he continues to develop. But that has yet to translate to the big leagues.