More than just a few homers
So far, it appears that Addison Russell is keeping up where he left off in 2016: hitting the ball hard. Russell has two hits in his five at-bats this Spring Training. Both hits left the yard. What is most impressive about the home runs was not the distance, but the placement. On Monday, Russell pull a bomb over the left field fence. The next day, a 3-run shot to center on a 3-2 count. There were also two outs. And, both came off right handed pitchers.
Pull, or not to pull?
When comparing to his 2016 stats, 11 of Russell’s home runs were pulled to left, and 10 to center. And only one came with two outs and runners on first and second. So far, so good for the shortstop.
Should the trend continue, Russell could hit 20+ home runs for the Chicago Cubs in 2017. Does that warrant the 23 year old batting clean-up in the order? According to Carrie Muskrat, Manager Joe Maddon has yet to consider it.
"I honestly have not thought about that significantly, but I need to…I think the power has been there. The ball comes off his bat hot. He had two strikes [Monday] and drew his hands inside. He’s strong. When a young guy like that starts understanding what he’s doing and getting in better counts, that’s when you’ll see more consistent power. He’s already powerful."
It certainly is an interesting thought, but only Maddon knows the opening day lineup. The rest of us will just wait and see.