Addison Russell – SS
When you look at the season that Addison Russell had for the Cubs, does it feel like he only batted .238? Which is four points lower than his 2015 average? Not at all. Part of that was his stellar defense at shortstop. The rest was his timely hitting that seemed to overshadow his low average.
For Russell, it’s not believing he’ll get better. It’s knowing exactly what he needs to do to get there. Evaluating oneself isn’t always easy. But Russell seems to have it down as Maddon pointed out to Bruce Miles:
"He’s such a gifted athlete. He’s just so quick. And he cares so much. And he’s turned out to be such a good self-evaluator."
After struggling in the division series, Russell exploded for three home runs in the NLCS and World Series–including nine RBIs against the Indians. His grand slam was one of the many big hits the Cubs had and seemed to come from the most unlikely source in Russell. But he showed his long ball potential by improving his home-run-to-flyball ratio from 9.8 to 14.2 percent.
In the field, Russell and Baez could become one of the best defensive tandems in baseball. Unseating Brandon Crawford for the Gold Glove won’t be easy. But once he does he might not let it go.