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Could Berti Be the Marlins 2B Come Opening Day?

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The prevailing conversation surrounding Marlins’ camp has been the battle between Jazz Chisholm and Isan Díaz for the second base job.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Merely on the strength of the title alone - the propensity of which voyeuristic sports fans perusing sites for updates and analysis surrounding their beloved Miami Marlins, and the inevitably of keyboard warriors preparing to go to war with their opinions - this piece is bound to draw its fair share of resentment and pushback.

For clarification purposes, the general consensus is that the organization would prefer either Jazz Chisholm or Isan Diaz to take the second base job and run with it in 2021.

But with the 2021 regular season a week from commencing, the results amongst the two - albeit Spring Training - leave little to be desired.

In 35 plate appearances, Diaz has slashed just .071/.257/.179, striking out 10 times in the process, while the former Chisholm has impressed with a .531 slugging percentage thanks to 3 home runs, though, while posting a sub-.300 on-base percentage (.294).

On the other hand, Jon Berti, who posted a .388 OBP in 2020, has been arguably the team’s best offensive player this spring. In 30 plate appearances as of March 25, Berti has a .533 OBP, walking 9 times against just 7 strikeouts, a clear indicator this patient approach has carried over into 2021.

For a lineup that projects to sport the likes of Adam Duvall, Corey Dickerson, and Jorge Alfaro, all of whom posted OBP’s below the league-wide average of .322, Berti could serve as a valuable facilitator to helping a Miami offense which ranks 29th in runs scored since 2018 plate more men.

For context, think of the 2017 team.

What made the 2017 Marlins a potent enough offensive team to finish 11th in runs scored was the presence of hitters with a knack for getting on base, with the team finishing the year with a .342 OBP and 114 OPS+ amongst their position players. The team, which featured eventual season-MVP Giancarlo Stanton, and the following year’s NL MVP Christian Yelich, would largely be disbanded after a 77-85 record and 8th consecutive losing season.

Of note as well on that 2017 team was the presence of leadoff hitter Dee Strange-Gordon, who posted a .341 OBP and stole 60 bases, the latter of which lead the National League.

For Berti, who led the team in stolen bases last year with 9, the Michigan native ranked in the 97th percentile in average sprint speed in 2020 per Baseball Savant.

All of this being said, there are several reasons to believe Berti won’t be the primary second basemen all season.

First of note is his age in comparison to Díaz and Chisholm, with Berti entering his age-31 season in 2021. Díaz and will turn 25 in May and Chisholm will be entering his age-23 season this year.

Berti also offers positional versatility which can still allow ample playing time for either of the twoa above-noted players. In two seasons with Miami, Berti has seen time at second and third base, shortstop, as well all 3 outfield positions.

For Chisholm, himself a natural shortstop, second base has been a position he only recently begun playing on regular basis upon his arrival to the majors, appearing in 13 games there during his first season with Miami.

While, yes, many of these aforementioned keyboard warriors will be quick to quip with rhetoric along the lines of “let the young guys play,” let us remind you that the season is long and Berti will be among the first to lose regular playing time should a slow start ail him in 2021, but for now, he appears the best option given his innate ability to wait pitchers out.