The MLB The Show '23 cover athlete will try out a new position next season.
Before I even go into the actual pros and cons of Jazz Chisholm Jr. in centerfield for the Marlins next season, let me just get one thing off my chest; if you have a huge problem with Jazz being named the cover athlete of MLB The Show '23, you're a huge dork.
It's about marketability, guys. Yes, there are players with better résumés out there, but how many of them have an entire country (the Bahamas) behind them? How many of them play with as much flair and excitement as Jazz does? You wanna talk about someone who people pay to see, look no further than the Marlins' (former) 2B. Plus, he was an All Star in 2022 and was on pace for a 6+ bWAR season had he not gotten injured, so he's a certified stud.
Jazz recently notified the Marlins front office and coaching staff that he would be willing to man centerfield, even guaranteeing he'd "win a Gold Glove." This came soon after Miami acquired All Star 2B Luis Arraez in a trade with Minnesota, thus creating a log jam in the infield for the Fish.
Although something like this may have been necessary, that doesn't make it any less funky. Here are the pros and cons of Jazz Chisholm Jr. being the captain of the Miami Marlins outfield.
One guy breathing a sigh of relief over Jazz taking over in center is new manager Skip Schumaker. Assuming he wouldn't have given up his 2B position, Skip would have had to juggle Jazz, Arraez, Jean Segura, Joey Wendle, Jon Berti, Jordan Groshans, Jacob Amaya, Xavier Edwards, Charles LeBlanc, and a few others at various points throughout the season. 9+ players battling for 2B, SS, and 3B makes for some major headaches and lends itself to overcoaching. Continuity is valuable, and although Jazz moving to center only clears things up a tad, it's one less player he has to worry about getting reps for in the infield.
I'm not saying Jazz will immediately be a defensive star in the outfield. But at least the Marlins have a clear-cut guy in center. A mixture of Jesus Sanchez, JJ Bleday, Peyton Burdick, and Bryan De La Cruz handled the bulk of CF duties in 2022; none of them were very good, however. All of these players will still be around for 2023, as things stand, and all of them profile better in the corners. Jazz, despite his complete lack of experience, is more physically suited to play center. He's the centerfielder, like it or not. No more mixing and matching for the time being.
It's nice to have your best players in positions that allow for the most influence on the game. 2B is important, but not as important as CF, which is generally accepted as the fourth most important player on defense, after pitcher, catcher, and shortstop. Assuming Jazz finds his way in the spacious outfield of loanDepot Park, he should enjoy a boost in his value metrics. That's great for him and great for the Marlins.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. only played 60 games last season, largely due to a stress fracture in his back. He also missed chunks of games in 2021 with shoulder and hamstring injuries. Back, shoulder, and hamstring ailments can easily flare up, and centerfield is a prime place for that to happen. There's no denying he can physically handle the position in a one-game sample; his arm, speed, and quickness are all elite. But will his body hold up across 162 games? Time will tell.
I already mentioned how valuable it would be to the Marlins if Jazz proves to be a good centerfielder. Unfortunately, his heightened influence on the outcome of the game cuts both ways. If he isn't good, if he doesn't take efficient routes or get quick jumps or adjust to the outfield wall or make smart throws, then we're in trouble. Opening Day is but two months away. Can he learn the skillset of a completely new position in that time? Will the Marlins accept the possible growing pains? For a team that needs a ton of things to break right if they want to compete in a loaded NL East, having a liability in centerfield is a nail in the coffin.
Three pros to two cons is a win in my book. I predict Jazz will look like someone who's never played the outfield in the early going, but will get better and better as the season goes on. Maybe there are Gold Gloves in his future, who knows? What I do know is #2 for the Miami Marlins will be can't-miss TV in 2023.
Hence why they made him the cover athlete of MLB The Show '23, dorks.