Ever since 28 July 2021, when the Marlins traded outfielder Starling Marte to the Oakland Athletics, they have been asking the same question: who is capable of playing centre field?
They have rotated the position and failed short, unable to find a solution for the growing problem. Just like in every cheesy romantic comedy, in the end, the main character falls in love with the person who has been in plain sight the whole movie. The Marlins, in this reference, the ever-hopeless romantic who seems to be dating all the wrong persons, finds the future centre fielder inside its clubhouse. The ultimate love is a Bahamian-born superstar who has been there all this time.
The first time I heard the rumours about Jazz Chisholm moving from the infield to the outfield, I thought the people behind this idea are very funny but a little bit crazy. Entering now his fourth season in the majors and having spent some time in the minors, Jazz has registered a combined 523 games of baseball and has never played a single game in the outfield, much less centre field.
It has been no secret that the Marlins have tried to get a centre fielder via trade ever since Marte left the clubhouse, but the woeful mantra of this club has been that they have tried to sign at least 99.9% of everyone available but fallen short every time. One of the main targets has been Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, but the Steel City front office continues to hold out for an exorbitant price for the star outfielder.
According to General Manager Kim Ng, the idea of moving Jazz to the outfield became serious after they became aware that the 2022 American League batting title Luis Arraez winner was available. Changes to the infield were also made before the Arraez trade, as the Marlins signed veteran infielder Jean Segura. The joke around the media was that Marlins are having a transfer policy of signing every second baseman available.
Despite having no experience in the outfield, I feel like my concerns about this change are valid, but I just might have to trust the masterminds behind this idea. When you look at Jazz playing the infield, either second base or the shortstop, you can see that he is electric and flashy. He possesses good instincts and has a range to get after popups. We have all seen him flying around the bases, and according to Statcast sprint speed leaderboards from 2021 to 2022, Jazz ranks 15th when measuring speed from home base to the first base.
One of the questions to also bear in mind is his arm strength. Ideally, the centre fielder should possess good arm strength and look at the Statcast Arm Strength for Jazz; he has recorded an 85.1 mph throw as his max speed. The hardest throwing centre fielder, according to Statcast, is Minnesota Twins’ newly acquired Michael A. Taylor, who has recorded 102.4 mph. Then again, Jazz has never thrown a ball from the outfield.
There are a couple of things, though, that puts all of this doubt about the inexperience of playing the actual position aside, and those are Jazz’s self-confidence and his willingness to switch positions. Jazz has never been shy about his confidence ever since he made his MLB debut in 2020, so it doesn’t strike me as a big surprise that when he was asked how many Gold Gloves he will win playing centre field, he replied, “depends how many seasons I will play there.”
At first glance, this might look like a move made in desperation after failing to trade for a proven player at the position. Then again, maybe it looks like a move made with the afterthought, “we got nothing to lose,” which I am buying at this moment.
With the National League East division being so competitive at the moment, the Marlins remain the odd team out. After being left out of a proven centre fielder in the trade market, you need to have some of these crazy ideas.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where they want to use him, even as a catcher or at first base; all I want for Jazz is a full, healthy season. That would be good for the Marlins, and as a new cover athlete for the MLB The Show, it would be good for baseball.
With the new regime at the end of the bench, Marlins are entering the new season with absolutely no pressure on their back. Nobody is expecting anything from them. What do you do when you have no pressure? You throw a shortstop in the outfield and roll the dice.
Stay safe, and Go Fish!
Featured image of Jazz Chisholm by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Tomi Korkeamäki is one of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @TKorkeamaki