The NL East is stacked with fearsome hitters that feast off of Phillies pitching. Ryan Zimmerman and Freddie Freeman have made a career out of it. Ronald Acuña Jr, Ozzie Albies and Juan Soto already have over 155 combined hits against the Phillies in just 146 games played.
Speaking of those three, the division is also loaded with superstar hitters in their early 20s. None of them happen to be employed by the Phillies (sorry Alec Bohm). As if Acuña, Albies, and Soto were not enough, the Phillies were introduced to another young, charismatic slugger in the form of Jazz Chisholm Jr. on Tuesday night.
On a 3-1 pitch in the top of the eighth, the 23-year-old crushed a 100.5 mph sinker into the right field seats to give Miami a two-run lead. It wasn’t the first time Chisholm hit a homer off a pitch that reached triple digits. His first one came off of Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher on the planet.
“His ball sinks and he left it up,” Chisholm said after Tuesday’s game,”it stayed kind of straight. [I] got on top of it.”
He’s the first hitter in MLB history to hit multiple home runs off pitches with a velocity of 100 mph or more. It’s quite an accomplishment for a player that has yet to play a full season in the big leagues.
In 94 plate appearances this season, Chisholm is slashing .301/.372/.544 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. A hamstring injury kept him out at the beginning of May, but the young second baseman looks to be picking up right where he left off. He struggled in his first month in the big leagues back in September, but the Marlins are confident that Chisholm is as good as his April suggests he is.
It’s too early to anoint him as one of baseball’s next great young hitters, but Chisholm is hitting for power and stealing bases at a high clip. His pull-heavy approach will play well at Citizens Bank Park over the course of his Marlins career. A natural shortstop, Chisholm won the everyday job at second base during spring training. Miami traded Zac Gallen in exchange for Chisholm at the deadline in 2019. The trade will probably go down as one of those rare deals that both teams win. The Marlins had pitching depth and Arizona had their fair share of young infielders. Both teams traded for a need and as a result, the Diamondbacks have a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher and the Marlins have a power-hitting middle infielder.
The list of notable Phillies killers who played for Miami/Florida is short because, like the Mets, both the Phillies and Marlins have rarely been good at the same time. Giancarlo Stanton had 27 home runs against the Phillies from 2010 to 2017, but 21 of those came at a time in which the Phillies were non-competitive. Miguel Cabrera slashed .332/.405/.583 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 87 games against the Phillies from 2003 to 2007.
Since the expansion Marlins came into existence in 1993, the two teams have finished with records above .500 only five times in the last 28 years. The two teams have only occupied first and second place in the NL East only one time back in 2009. Chris Coghlan had a 1.139 OPS in 15 games against the Phillies that year, but he doesn’t draw the ire of Phillies fans. Dan Uggla and Cody Ross were also pretty good for the Marlins against the Phillies that year, but the Phillies ended the regular season six games ahead of Florida in the division. Nobody remembers 2009 as a battle between Philadelphia and Florida for the top spot in the NL East.
But things are different in the year 2021. The Phillies are in win-now mode. The Marlins made the playoffs last year and could surprise people around baseball once again. Miami should be players alongside Philadelphia in free agency in the coming years with new TV money kicking it.
It’ll take some time for a player like Chisholm to establish himself as a thorn in the Phillies’ side the way a player like Freeman has. The 23-year-old’s first series as a visiting player should serve as a warning for everyone watching: Chisholm has the talent and charisma to drive the Phillies (and the rest of the NL East) mad for years to come.
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