Marlins’ Jazz Chisholm Jr. Has Exceeded Expectations in Center Field

The Miami Marlins took a gamble when they transitioned Jazz Chisholm Jr. to center field, but he has been able to deliver at the position.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07: Jazz Chisholm Jr. #2 of the Miami Marlins reacts during the game between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets at Citi Field on Friday, April 7, 2023 in New York, New York. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Jasrado Prince Hermis Arrington Chisholm Jr.’s name provides just as much spark as his play has done for the Marlins in 2023.

While many seem to believe Jazz’s “antics” are a little over the top, there is no denying the talent that he possesses and the ability to make a big-time position change at the last minute in order to help facilitate the addition of Luis Arraez this off-season has meant everything to the Marlins.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the Marlins center fielder prior to the season even beginning. After being put on the cover of MLB The Show, a lot of narratives began to be written surrounding Jazz and whether he truly is a “good enough” player to warrant the honor.

Much to the dismay of the doubters, Jazz has done nothing but produce for the Marlins in what looks to be a playoff push that will last to the very last game of the 2023 season.

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Steady Power Production

Entering play on September 20th, Jazz is slashing .250/.303/.456 with 18 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases. He has accumulated 2.0 fWAR and has a wRC+ of 102.

The volatile offensive profile has been questioned by many each season but, in my opinion, the bigger issue is his ability to stay on the field consistently.

Since making his debut in 2020, Jazz has only played over 100 games once. So while his bat is a key cog to the Marlins’ success, it is not surprising that the team’s offense has faltered when he isn’t in the lineup. This is likely a thought the Marlins front office had in mind at this year’s deadline when they made the move to add Jake Burger and Josh Bell.

The Marlins acquired Jazz from the Diamondbacks in a rare 1-for-1 trade that involved Zac Gallen back in 2019. They did so in hopes that he would, in fact, be the spark in the lineup that he has given them throughout the past four seasons. While his production at the plate cannot be ignored, it’s the other aspect of his game that has attributed to the team’s success in 2023.

Glove Love

As January was coming to an end, Marlins GM Kim Ng reported that the Marlins All-Star second baseman was making a move from the infield to center field in order to assist in roster construction at a time where the Marlins were striking out at opportunities to add a center fielder to their roster.

The initial results were not great, to say the least.

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Back on April 9th, we released an article saying that the Marlins needed to end the Jazz in center field experiment.

Well, as Jazz has continued to do in multiple instances, he proved some of the doubters wrong.

The Marlins were desperate to improve on their sixth-worst-ranked offense in 2022. With the addition of Luis Arraez being the most impactful move they could make to do so, Joey Wendle penciled in at shortstop, and off-season signing Jean Segura at third, the question became “What would they do with Jazz?” and will his speed, athleticism, and the fact that he wasn’t truly a premiere defender at second be the right move for not only the team, but the rest of Jazz’s career.

Spring training made it clear that this was not going to be a seamless transition for Mr. Chisholm. However, after about a month and a half of practice and in-game reps, Jazz seemed to have settled in to his position of the future.

The transition became so prevalent that his advanced fielding metrics started to rival those of Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, and Cody Bellinger in terms of their defensive ability in center field. As we approach the end of the 2023 regular season, Jazz still ranks amongst the top of the list of OAA (Outs Above Average).

The biggest benefactor to his ability to play center field would be his tremendous instincts and the jump he is getting on the ball. Something that he was struggling mightily with at the beginning of the experiment.

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So, while the future seemed murky at first, Jazz’s bet on himself is looking like it will play off.

Franchise Flexibility

As the Marlins continue to build on their young core of players, and all of the momentum they have gained during the 2023 season, the fact that Jazz looks to be the center fielder of the Marlins’ future provides the front office with a multitude of ways to stay flexible.

Not having to worry about where Jazz will play on the field next season, or if they’d have to DH him or Arraez in order to accommodate the duo playing at the same time, is what is going to continue to help this organization propel to the next level and become a perennial playoff contender each season going forward.

The Front Office took a chance when they trusted Jazz’s commitment to playing this new position. In fact, the move could have set the franchise back quite a bit if this did not pan out this way. To this point, Jazz has lived up to his promise of being a potential above-average center fielder and you would assume it will only continue to improve as his career progresses.