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Chicago Cubs: Is Addison Russell stuck in ‘maybe mode’ at the plate?

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May 4, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (27) hits an RBI double during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (27) hits an RBI double during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Cubs’ All-Star shortstop Addison Russell may be treading very dangerous waters at the plate, according to his manager, Joe Maddon.

The Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell has had his share of off-days this season, both at the plate and in the field.  One major contributing factor is his .211 batting average.

But, don’t tell that to Joe Maddon.

The Cubs’ skipper told the Chicago Tribune that his choice to play Javier Baez over Russell in Saturday’s 5-to-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, “wasn’t a simple day off”.

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"“I’ve been trying to go back and forth with Russell and Baez… I don’t want him to get too many at-bats when [Russell’s] struggling,” Maddon said."

Maddon described Russell’s approach as ‘maybe mode’ lately. It seems as though the young infielder is indecisive at the plate. To swing or not to swing – that is always the question. Whether it is nobler to work an at-bat or be aggressive, that’s where Russell is struggling.

Overthinking things at the plate

The Cubs’ skipper suggested that his shortstop’s trouble at the plate may be caused by too much interior dialogue.

"“Is it going to be good? Do I want to swing?’ All this other interior language really gets in the way. It never works,” Maddon said."

When a pitcher gets ahead in the count against Russell, he’s slashing .161/.274/.462 with a 33 percent strikeout rate.  In an even count, Russell is batting .172, though he has failed to work a walk from either situation.

Russel has worked the fifth-most walks on the team with 17, but his 21 percent strikeout rate is sixth-highest on the team.  Even so, Russell has the lowest OPS+ in the starting-nine and is seven runs below the average replacement level.

Next: Chicago Cubs look to sweep rival Cardinals

It’s no secret that Russell’s glove is what first caught the eye of the Cubs when they traded Jeff Samardzjia and Jason Hammel for him in 2014.  However, his bat is what will keep him in an everyday role.

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