Chicago Cubs: Addison Russell showing improvement in second half

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Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs middle infielder  Addison Russell has played his best baseball during the second half of the season, helping the Cubs surge to a 24-15 record since the All-Star break in mid-July. Since the All-Star break, he has slashed .267/.303/.422, bringing his overall batting average up to a respectable .241. Many people expected this turnaround to happen at some point for the supremely talented 21-year-old. However, the fact that Russell rebounded so dramatically in such a short amount of time between the last game of the first half of the season on July 12 and now deserves further explanation.

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His second half turnaround comes in stark contrast to his performance during the first half of the season. According to baseball reference data, during this time frame he slashed .226/.296/.354 with five home runs, 22 RBIs and 83 strikeouts. His batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS number have all been higher in the second half of the season. He is on track to surmount his first half totals in hits, home runs and RBIs despite the Cubs playing less games during the second half of the season.

Although he struggled initially when the Chicago Cubs promoted him to the Majors on April 21, his sheer talent and potential indicated that at some point he would get his act together and start playing better. Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the second-best prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2015 season, ahead of teammate Kris Bryant and only trailing Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. Baseball America and rated Russell at number three and five respectively in their pre-2015 prospect rankings.

A number of factors including a swing fix combined with a change to his approach and a position change have contributed to Addison Russell’s upsurge during the second half of the Chicago Cubs season.

Next: Swing adjustment