Think of the most fun players to watch -- you probably thought of some power-speed guys, the players who can crush home runs and steal bases at will. Here's a new one you might want to start tuning in for: Jazz Chisholm Jr..
The Marlins' 23-year-old second baseman looks like a rising young star early in 2021. Chisholm's not just off to a hot start. He looks like he has big upside as a power-speed threat. And he's a must-see ballplayer right now.
Chisholm, Miami's No. 4 prospect and MLB's No. 58 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is hitting .325/.451/.675 with three home runs, three stolen bases and a 1.126 OPS entering Tuesday's series opener against the Orioles. That's a great stat line. But let's look at the tools that make Chisholm so exciting -- specifically, his power-speed combo.
Statcast is great for identifying players with standout tools. Check out how Chisholm rates in the various Statcast categories.
That's a lot of red, and red is good. Now, which are the key metrics for power-speed players?
For power, there's barrels. Those are balls hit with ideal combinations of exit velocity and launch angle. A barrel has to be hit hard, and driven in the air. Barrels usually go for extra-base hits and home runs. For speed, there's sprint speed, which tracks how fast players are on their max-effort runs. Major League average sprint speed is 27 feet per second, and 30+ ft/sec is elite speed.
Chisholm ranks in the 100th percentile of MLB in barrel rate this season -- yes, he's at the very top -- with 28.6% of his batted balls being barreled. He ranks in the 94th percentile of MLB in sprint speed, averaging 28.6 ft/sec. Basically, his quality of contact is as powerful as anyone's, and he's faster than almost everyone else, too.
Here are the players who are in the 90th percentile or better in both barrel rate and sprint speed in 2021:
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA) -- 100th in barrel rate, 94th in sprint speed
Byron Buxton (MIN) -- 100th in barrel rate, 98th in sprint speed
Shohei Ohtani (LAA) -- 98th in barrel rate, 96th in sprint speed
Mike Trout (LAA) -- 98th in barrel rate, 96th in sprint speed
Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL) -- 92nd in barrel rate, 97th in sprint speed
Chris Taylor (LAD) -- 91st in barrel rate, 94th in sprint speed
Akil Baddoo (DET) -- 90th in barrel rate, 95th in sprint speed
Chisholm, Buxton, Ohtani and Trout are the only players who are 94th percentile or better in both categories. Either way you slice it, it's a good group. For Chisholm, the point is: he's got true power-speed talent, and the Statcast data shows it.
He's in the company of some of the game's biggest bats at the top of the early season barrels leaderboard.
Most barrels hit in 2021
Ronald Acuña Jr., Shohei Ohtani: 10
Rafael Devers, Nelson Cruz: 9
Jazz Chisholm Jr., Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Aaron Judge: 8
Barrels: Ideal combinations of exit velocity + launch angle
And he's in the No. 1 spot on the barrel rate leaderboard.
Highest barrel rate in 2021
Min. 25 batted balls
1) Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 28.6%
2) Byron Buxton (MIN): 26.9%
3) Nelson Cruz (MIN): 26.5%
4) Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 25.6%
5) Mike Trout (LAA): 24.1%
But it's more than just those numbers. Look at the balls he's barreling up. The most impressive was the home run he hit off a 100.4 mph Jacob deGrom fastball.
That's Chisholm crushing a ball 107.4 mph off triple-digit heat from the best pitcher in the world. And that ball was up and out of the strike zone. In fact, it was 3.61 feet off the ground -- the highest 100+ mph pitch anyone has hit for a home run in the entire pitch-tracking era, which goes all the way back to 2008. That's an amazing piece of hitting.
But Chisholm might be most exciting when the ball stays in the yard. Like on his first triple of the year. That ball was ripped 108.6 mph off Chaz Roe's signature slider, but the best part was watching Chisholm fly around the bases at a 28.6 ft/sec sprint speed.
Or the two times he's stolen third base already. He reached 29.7 ft/sec and 29.5 ft/sec on those steals, just under the elite 30+ ft/sec range.
Or his two infield singles, when he reached sprint speeds of 29.4 ft/sec and 29.3 ft/sec.
Or when he turned a 244-foot fly ball to short right field into a sacrifice fly by scoring from third with a sprint speed of 30.6 ft/sec -- easily exceeding the elite 30 ft/sec threshold.
Chisholm is a top-20 fastest player in baseball right now, and his speed isn't just for show, it's a difference-maker in the game. These are extra bases, extra hits and extra runs he's creating. He's an all-around playmaker.
By the way, all of this isn't coming out of nowhere. Chisholm isn't just a top prospect who was worth trading Zac Gallen for, he also already looked like a breakout hitter candidate in Spring Training, when he was hitting the ball just as hard and racking up runs at the same top-tier sprint speeds. But he's making good on that promise in the big leagues right now, and that of course is way better.