There have been 7 players to make it to the majors from the Bahamas. None have been nearly as exciting as the rise of Jasrado Prince Hermis Arrington Chisholm Jr., more commonly known as Jazz Chisholm Jr. One of the most electric players in the sport, Chisholm made his debut in the outlier season that was 2020. Unexpectedly, he struggled, posting a slash line of .161/.242/.321 and a measly wRC+ of 56. However, this was only in 62 plate appearances, and many knew this wasn’t the type of player Chisholm projected to be. Enter the 2021 season, and man has he blown away everyone’s expectations, not only in terms of pure production but in what he’s doing for the sport.
Show Me The Production
Having beat out Isan Díaz for the Marlins’ second base job this Spring, Chisholm has been able to find his way to consistent playing time. As of April 25th, Chisholm is tied for tenth among all position players in fWAR (1.0) and tied for seventeenth in wOBA (.413). His production doesn’t just come from his bat, though. He’s also tied for sixth(!) in Fangraphs’ base-running stat, BsR, at 1.2, and has an overall defense value of 1.0, which is also from Fangraphs. He’s found a way to contribute in every aspect of his game.
To examine his offensive output at a finer scale, lets first take a look at his quality of contact.
Chisholm has the most barrels among second basemen this year at 9 and has an average exit velocity of 91.3 mph. He hits the ball hard, very hard. It’s refreshing to see that his results have in fact been earned, not the product of weak contact and BABIP luck. Here is a clip of him hitting the ball extremely hard, followed by his signature euro step over home plate.
In fact, his xwOBA (expected wOBA, which is based on the quality of contact) is slightly higher than his wOBA: 0.421 versus 0.414, respectively! One of the more fascinating things in his profile stems from his K% and BB%. He strikes out at a very high clip, right around 30.4%, but he still walks a great amount too, at 13.0%. Now, whether either of these metrics will hold over the course of a full season is in question, but his plate discipline may be the last thing to work on that can vault him into a top 5 player at his position.
Chisholm’s main problem, and maybe only problem(?), seems to be the aforementioned plate discipline. His great BBE profile comes with a few question marks, namely in terms of Whiff% and Chase%. So far this year, he is in the 28th percentile in Baseball Savant’s Whiff% metric, examining how many times he has swung and missed. This comes with a particular struggle against off-speed pitches, specifically, the splitter and change-up. Granted, he hasn’t seen many of either, showing us the small sample size, but he has a 50% whiff rate against splitters and a 33% whiff rate against changeups. However, I’m fully confident this is simply a processing issue that will pick up over more experience, as he has already been able to hit other secondary pitches like the cutter and slider. Lastly, Chisholm has begun to see fewer first pitch strikes, down 7.7% from the 61.3% clip last year. Yet, he’s swung at more first pitch strikes this year, at 23.2% now compared to 22.6% last year. As he continues to tear up the league, pitchers will only become more and more wary of him and feed him junk. It’s on him to make that jump and utilize plate discipline skills to draw even more walks if possible, while maintaining his quality of contact.
Defensively, Jazz has shown a fantastic ability to play the field. He has posted an OAA (Outs Above Average) of 2, and an added success rate of 5% at second base this year. Perhaps the Marlins want him to stay at second now that he’s found a groove, but no matter where he plays, he brings energy.
An Impact Greater Than Hits and Highlights
This is my favorite part about Jazz Chisholm Jr., the blue haired king. Jazz fits right into the Fernando Tatis Jr. generation of players that’s making baseball fun again. And by fun again, I mean entertaining. And by entertaining, I mean playing with a fire, an energy that most baseball players just don’t seem to possess. He isn’t afraid of the spotlight, and the swagger he carries is unmatched. In one of his first games this year, Jazz hit an absolute tank off of a Jacob Degrom fastball. Let me repeat, a Jacob Degrom fastball. Many have tried, and few have succeeded at that.
But more than that, Chisholm shows a passion for the fans and the game itself. He’s often in his dugout, riling up the fans, and has engaged with many on social media, sharing stories of fans cheering him onto his Instagram. He finds a way to connect with people, especially representing such a niche group of baseball players from the Bahamas. At times when it feels like MLB is doing everything it can to repress the personality of its players, it’s refreshing to have an outlier in Jazz, someone who isn’t afraid of going the extra mile.
This clip to me captures the persona of Jazz Chisholm Jr. He carries his heritage with him in each and every single game and shows an appreciation for the people who made it possible for people like him to play this sport. Just look at him and you’ll see the amazing energy he gives off. After everything Rob Manfred has done to restrict the growth of the game, players like Jazz have taken it upon themselves. He’s keeping his character within his roots, and I’m sure many black baseball fans appreciate that of him and are now going out of their own way to support him and the groove he brings to what many feel like is a sport that’s losing its mojo. Not only does Jazz play the game of baseball, he knows why he plays it, and boy does he do an amazing job at it. He’s opening up doors for fans to get into the game, one they may have felt to be boring at times. If you for some reason haven’t heard of this man or taken the time to tune into his games, I wholeheartedly recommend it. His energy, passion, vibe, and dedication aren’t commonplace, and we had better enjoy it.