Chicago Cubs: Five Cubs players who will improve in 2017
#5. Addison Russell
Only 23 years old, Addison Russell has been a valuable asset for the Chicago Cubs in his fist two years. But there’s still room for improvement. In 2016, the young shortstop slashed .238/.321/.417 with 21 home runs and 95 RBI. Now, 21 homers and 95 runs driven in is nothing to scoff at, but if Russell can improve his patience at the plate, he could be even better this season.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing offensively has been the power numbers Russell has managed to put up. He ranked seventh in the league last year with 21 home runs. That’s fantastic for a shortstop. It took Russell a while to tap into that power last year, so if he can find the big stick early on this season, that home run total could get even higher.
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Russell’s OBP (.321) from last season is right on par with what the league average usually is. At such a young age, that’s fine. His OBP from 2015 was a meager .307, so he’s already made strides. And as his confidence at the plate continues to grow, we could see an even bigger jump this season.
Gold Glove-worthy defense
Defense is what has really defined Russell so far. It’s not too far-fetched think he’s capable of getting better on defense, but by all accounts, he’s already one of the best defenders in the game.
Last year, Russell had an astounding 15.4 UZR. That’s Gold Glove-caliber defense. It really is a shame he didn’t win a Gold Glove award last season, because he deserved it.
Bottom line: Addison Russell has been a tremendous young player so far, but the tools are there for him to improve his game even further. Look for him to have a greater impact in the Cubs’ lineup this year.