Should the Marlins give Jazz the red light?
Let’s be clear, Jazz Chisholm is by far the best offensive player the Miami Marlins have.
There are many things that contribute to this, but perhaps the most obvious is his base stealing ability. In his rookie year Chisholm hit 18 Home Runs and swiped 23 bags, narrowly missing out on becoming the first rookie 20/20 middle infielder to do so since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997. His 12 stolen bases in an injury shortened ‘22 season put him on a similar pace. It might therefore seem ridiculous for the Marlins to look to limit their lone offensive star from a big part of his game.
However, coming off of the aforementioned injury shortened season, it is reported that Miami’s star infielder played through an injury which resulted in surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. With a full offseason to recover a hopefully healthy Chisholm should be ready for spring training, as well as the World Baseball Classic where he will represent Great Britain.
It still feels prudent for the Marlins to play it safe and manage Chisholm carefully, especially when factoring in the additional wear and tear that stealing bases puts upon a player. In the 24 year old, the Marlins have an irreplaceable star, highlighted by how anaemic the lineup looked without him in 2022. Therefore, limiting his exposure to said risk will help ensure his bat stays in the lineup for a full season. Something which is far more valuable and important than gaudy stolen base stats that may or may not add value.
Perhaps the larger reason to limit Chisholm’s green light on the base paths is that his success, 37 MLB stolen bases, is too heavily offset by having been caught stealing 15 times. With a 71% success rate Chisholm’s stolen base efforts have limited value to the Marlins. In fact, using wSB the stat used to value SB/CS in the calculation for wins above replacement, the successful steals are equal to less than a run of added value. With this in mind, whilst a full red light is obviously overkill, a team being run with an increasingly sabermetric mindset should surely address this in some way.
Any such move would of course require a lot of care and tact, especially after the upheaval of sitting Chisholm versus left handed pitchers in the early part of last season. It would also provide an early challenge for rookie manager, Skip Schumaker.
Stolen bases, no matter how inefficient, will of course also factor into any arbitration negotiations and thus affect Chisholm’s future earning potential. However, should the coaching staff make this move, it would be reasonable of him to realize that coming back from an injury, and perhaps needing to see time at SS could make the physical pressures of stealing bases too much. Indeed multiple full seasons will have a huge bearing on Chisholm’s ability to earn and a 25-30 home run season with 5-10 stolen bases would be far more valuable for him and the Marlins.
One final aspect to factor in is age. Chisholm is still young and to a certain degree raw. This is a positive, he has flashed amazing talent and has all the makings of a star player not just for the Marlins but for the league. Last season he displayed growth not only defensively but with his plate discipline and contact rate. Future development of these tools will be important for Jazz if he is to develop to his full potential.
That is to say that a fully healthy Jazz can improve on his stolen base success rate.
For him to continue to receive the green light going forwards, it may need to.