Addison Russell is having quite a season for the Chicago Cubs.
At just 22, he seems to be playing beyond his years. He always seems to have a key hit in a game. Kris Bryant has the home runs while Anthony Rizzo drives in a lot of runs. Addison Russell has come on strong since the All-Star break to make an impact for the Cubs.
Granted, he’s hitting .245 for the season. But he has 19 home runs, and 88 runs batted in. Recently, he became just the third shortstop in franchise history to drive in at least 80 runs in a season. One of the other players was Cubs’ legend Ernie Banks.
In a recent article about Russell, Jesse Rogers of ESPN spoke to manager Joe Maddon about his shortstop. Russell has hit well and made good plays on defense since the All-Star game.
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Maddon thinks being there at the game helped Russell gain a sense that he belonged. “Making the All-Star game and being in that group in San Diego really helped catapult his second half,” Maddon said.
Russell has taken a liking to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field and has driven in 59 runs at home. He comes in second to Nolan Arenado of the Rockies who plays at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Russell has 37 runs batted in since the All-Star break — the most in the National League.
And Russell comes up with the big hit. In addition, he has 28 runs batted in with two outs and men on base. Not to mention, Russell is one of the leaders in that category.
Against the Giants, he hit a single in the seventh inning to score two runs to take a one-run lead as the Cubs won that game by a run. Russell had the game-winning hit.
Addison’s teammates notice his production. “The ability to handle the clutch situations and get that big hit when it matters is beyond his years”, said Ben Zobrist to ESPN. In the past seven games, Russell is hitting .316 and he has certainly playing all-star caliber baseball in the second half. “He’s growing up as a major league player,” Maddon noted. “His confidence could not be higher.”
Russell continues to play his game and it has risen to a pretty high level lately. “It’s been fun. Hopefully, I can keep it going,” Russell said.
The Cubs hope he can keep it going too.