Chicago Cubs: Is Addison Russell the real Cubs MVP?


On a team loaded with young talent, it is easy to overlook Addison Russell. He may be quiet, but he packs a major punch on the Chicago Cubs.

No. He does not hit tons of home runs for the Chicago Cubs. No. He is not in commercials to help hype Major League Baseball. He does not say much. He does not lead the team in average or tweets. But he does lead the team, quietly. And has a GIF and hashtag!

He is Addison Russell. And his contributions to the team have been stellar. To think that a shortstop is tied for eleventh in the National League in run batted in is amazing. What is more amazing is that he’s tied with teammate Kris Bryant with 73 RBI. He is also fourth in the MLB in defensive WAR as a shortstop. That stat may come as no surprise to any of us.

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If you read my articles, you know I love stats. There is something about the numbers that tell a story to me. When you look at the stats for Addison Russell, you can argue that he is the MVP of the Chicago Cubs this year. Take a look.

Not just about the bat

Sure, Russell’s batting average is .244 for the season. He struggles versus left-handed pitching with a .198 average. He started off slow in both halves, but his average climbs each month. Most importantly, Russell produces when his teammates are on base.

Runners on first and third? He bats .438 with nine RBI. How about a runner on third and less than two outs? Russell has an average of .500 with 28 RBI, five walks, four sacrifice flies. When someone in on first and there is less than two outs, he boasts .356 batting average with 34 RBI. That is right, just under half of his RBIs come with someone on first base only. And, not only does Russell move runners over and knock them in, he also gets on base regularly. Even with a low batting average, his .332 on-base percentage is fifth on the team. All in all, with runners on base and one out, Russell performs well.

When you investigate stats in terms of leverage and clutch stats, you know why Addison Russell is the MVP for the Chicago Cubs. In high leverage situations (for example, runner on second in a close game), the Russell has a .405 batting average, 37 runs batted in, eight doubles, one triple, and three home runs. That is better than both Anthony Rizzo (.388, 35 RBI) and Kris Bryant (.271, 19 RBI).  In terms of hitting by inning, Russell is best in the first inning (.409 BA) or the sixth inning (.306 BA).

We all know about his defense, but it has been his batting that has made Russell valuable to the Chicago Cubs. But, in case you forget about his defense, enjoy this video.