Last Sunday night, I had a chance to sit down and watch the Padres vs. Dodgers game on ESPN. Lots of good storylines in that series. On one hand, you have Dodgers fans mercilessly booing Manny Machado. On the other hand, you have Fernando Tatis Jr. showing you baseball can be fun and Trevor Bauer surprisingly agreeing (to an extent)! So I had to watch after that little show Tatis put on Saturday night. However, the one thing that caught my attention was a brief vignette ESPN put on about Tatis. They had a few of the game’s most exciting players answering the question, “who is the most exciting player in the league today?” Of course, everyone said Tatis. While he might be exciting, they’re wrong. The most exciting player in the league is Jazz Chisholm Jr.
You don’t know Jazz? Well let me introduce you.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. is currently the starting second baseman for the Miami Marlins. Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, the 23-year-old is only 1 of 7 Bahamians to ever play in the Major Leagues. Acquired in 2019 from the Diamondbacks for Zac Gallen, Chisholm was brought on board because of that elusive speed/power combination teams love these days (see: Acuna, Soto, yes, even Tatis). Not to mention, he was bringing that to the middle infield position. Pretty promising stuff!
Was Jazz a Shoe-in?
No way! Although Jazz showed good stats in the minors (20+ home runs, 15+ stolen bases in 2 full seasons), his time to shine in 2020 was a bit of a dud. In 56 at-bats he finished with a .161 batting average (ugh), a .242 OBP (ouch), and 19 strikeouts (eek!). Good thing the Marlins looked past that small sample size and gave him an invite to Spring Training this season to give him a chance at a job. We all know that Spring Training isn’t always the greatest tell if a player is going to be good or not but Jazz proved himself. He raised his batting average and OBP around 100 points each and even hit 3 home runs in 41 at-bats. After that showing, he became the Marlins starting second baseman in 2021.
Well ok, but how’s Jazz doing now?
Unfortunately right when I started writing this, Jazz went down with a hamstring injury after stealing second against Milwaukee BUT that’s precisely the reason I’m writing this. Jazz. Is. Crushing. In just 21 games thus far, Jazz is hitting an amazing .290/.375/.551 with 4 home runs already. Additionally, he’s stolen 7 bases which is good for second in the majors with two swipes in Monday’s game. We can likely expect a slight regression when he’s back in action but I think he outperforms many of his projections, especially on the basepaths.
Just look at these wheels (and the hair) especially at :25 against the Rays:
His kryptonite thus far has been his strikeouts so he has to learn to bring those down in order to truly succeed in this league. If he’s able to do that, Jazz has the right tools to be a force for many years to come. Once his hamstring is better and he’s ready to get back in action, I’m excited to see what he’s able to accomplish in 2021.
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