Can the Marlins trust Jazz Chisholm Jr. to be the face of their franchise?
While I was covering the Miami Marlins, José Fernández and Jazz Chisholm Jr. are two similar. It takes a lively personality and loud baseball tools to transcend the South Florida fan base while playing for an average team. Chisholm is almost exactly the same age as Fernández when he tragically passed away. While there’s no comparison between their MLB resumes, Chisholm is building a JDF-like following, bringing new fans to the league and becoming a guilty pleasure for those who usually put down roots. in other MLB teams.
During Bruce Sherman’s tenure of ownership, no Marlin had as much of an impact on the collectibles industry as Chisholm (demand for his baseball cards, auctions for his memorabilia used in the game, etc. ). No one else moves the needle quite so much on social media, getting thousands of engagements and tens of thousands of impressions on Fish Stripes tweets from their spring training strong points.
Not even Jorge Soler, the reigning Cuban-born World Series MVP who delivered a equally important blow in this exhibition game. Soler is about to be a star In Miamibut Chisholm already operates internationally.
This week, MLB The Show 22 selected Chisholm to feature on its Marlins Franchise Card Faces. The Show community loves him – he’s been playing the game for years and its developers have gone out of their way to recreate his signature Euro Step Home Run Celebration long before the card was revealed. Most of us saw this coming.
A person who was taken by surprise? Jazz Chisholm Jr himself. The Show informed him just a day before the card was revealed.
“I was like, ‘wow, that’s crazy,'” Chisholm told Fish Stripes on Wednesday. “I didn’t think I was going to be there already.”
Nearly half of the franchise’s 30 player faces are former MLB All-Stars, including future Hall of Famers Mike Trout (Angels) and Joey Votto (Reds). The only player younger than Chisholm, 24, is Wander Franco (Rays), who was the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball before his debut and quickly validated the hype.
Based on past performances, Chisholm is right to feel out of place. In 145 career games in the majors, he was a below average hitter in every way. There is a considerable amount of swing-and-miss in his game and he got to base safely less than 30% of the time. Billed as the Marlins’ long-term shortstop entering 2021, he struggled with those defensive assignments as a rookie (minus-4 defensive points saved, minus-10 over-par strikeouts and 10 errors in 37 games at SS).
In reality, there is no “face of the Marlins” at the moment. Their local talent didn’t do enough for that. The newly signed Soler and Avisaíl García are too inconsistent. Recently deceased CEO Derek Jeter was sort of the tentative choice for that moniker, or you could even argue for trailblazing general manager Kim Ng, but no frame resonates with the fanbase as deeply as an active player can.
Can Jazz raise his game to fill the void?
Chisholm has classic intangibles in the face of the franchise. Some tangible are also in place: agility and competitiveness of the elites. He ranked in the 94th percentile in MLB Sprint Speed last season (29.1 fps) and also placed near the top of the Ranking from domicile to first.
Yes, there were raw aspects of Chisholm’s baserunning. He’s been caught stealing more times than any other player in the National League (8 CS).
“It was right next to bad attempts,” Chisholm says. “Just don’t play the game.”
However, he was making up for those mistakes with his extra bases taken. In 2021, according to Baseball-Reference, Chisholm had 28 opportunities to advance more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double. He succeeded 20 times. That 71.4 XBT% was the highest among all MLB qualifiers, followed by José Ramírez, Starling Marte and Tim Anderson.
Last week on Fish Stripes Unfiltered, I made the bold prediction that Chisholm would lead MLB in stolen bases this year. It looks like it’s going to age badly. He recognizes the impact of the Marlins’ winter additions and has adapted his philosophy to prioritize team offensive production over individual stats:
“I don’t think of stolen bases as just going and stealing sacks – I feel like stolen bases are what you do when you’re trying to get into position to help your team win. So It’s not like I’m gonna go out and steal a sack every night I’m gonna go out and steal a sack if I’m on first base, one on, [Jesús Aguilar] is up to it and he needs me at second base to get him that RBI because I know he’s raking with runners in scoring position.
“This year is more like clever baserunning instead of running into an out. This year I could really be in a position to score at first base with Soler behind me and Agui and García and (Jesús) Sánchez and (Garrett) Cooper… the names are endless here. You don’t have to produce the race yourself.
Chisholm didn’t initially mention Joey Wendle among the “big boppers” on the Marlins, so I asked him separately for his reaction to the acquisition. Wendle ranks as a more multi-position outfielder. At least in the short term, he plans to be Miguel Rojas’ main backup shortstop, freeing up Chisholm to focus on second base.
“So professional,” Chisholm says. “BP professional, ground ball professional, even the way he plays wrestling, very professional [laughs]… He also rakes. He is also a great addition to the team. »
The bigger question is how much progress Chisholm himself will make in the batting box. He approaches 2022 with a total of 94 wRC+ and 85 DRC+. If he’s mastered the other facets of the game but doesn’t significantly improve in that department, that still won’t be enough to propel him to All-Star status.
Chisholm was on top of the world in April 2021, cutting .311/.388/.581 in 22 games before suffering a hamstring injury. But there was more valleys only spikes after that, extended periods in which he chased outside the strike zone too often, couldn’t get his barrel to the ball in time or both. Hence a mediocre .236/.286/.395 slash line over his last 102 games.
He is ready to be held accountable for maintaining high level results.
“Everyone saw lightning last year,” Chisholm says. “Pop flashes, bat flashes, glove flashes, speed flashes. This year, it’s constant work on everything: regularity of power, speed, glove, everything I do, all the time.
I needed to ask Chisholm about Jeter. It’s unlikely he made it into the Marlins organization in the first place if it wasn’t for the the legendary shortstop’s endorsement, leading to a shock trade at the 2019 trade deadline sending Zac Gallen to the Diamondbacks in trade. They forged a real relationship over the next two years. Jeter publicly announced the end of his tenure with the Marlins on Feb. 28.
“I understand why he left,” Chisholm said. “I probably would have done the same in the same situation.”
He and Jeter share a “mentality” of putting winning first. Multiple reports in the aftermath of Jeter’s departure suggested Marlins ownership was not giving Jeter the go-ahead to spend enough to finish building a roster in contention.
“But after the lockout, then they sign Soler [for $36 million], then it’s like, ‘Okay, at least they’re showing us something right now.’ Show us they’re trying to win,” Chisholm says.
This is the other side of the “franchise player” conversation – the player may be perfect in every way, but it doesn’t matter unless he (and his agency) does enough confidence in the team’s decisions to move forward to sign a long-term deal. Contract. Luckily for Marlins fans, even in the post-Jeter era, Chisholm says he’s comfortable staying in Miami.
Sandy Alcantara has signed a five-year, $56 million extension, with the club ending its career year in 2021. What if Jazz has its own breakthrough in 2022?
“I would like to be a Marlin for the rest of my career,” he says. “When we enter these talks, I hope we can reach an agreement. I had in mind to get an extension, but it has to be fair at the same time.
Chisholm is on track to reach arbitration eligibility in 2024 and test free agency after the 2026 season. He is represented by Roc Nation Sports.