Addison Russell’s young career has been one of ups and downs. But roughly a quarter of the way through his fourth MLB season, Cubs’ fans may have to come to terms with there not being that next level for Russell.
When Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell was called up for his MLB debut in early 2015, most prospect lists had him as a top-five prospect in baseball. He was considered to be one of the essential pieces in Theo Epstein’s turnover of the franchise.
And Russell has been huge for the Cubs at times. No one will forget his six RBI in the first three innings of game six of the 2016 World Series. But what if Addison Russell isn’t what the Cubs hoped he’d be?
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Youth no longer an excuse
On the day of his debut, Russell was the youngest player in baseball. But now the short stop is 24 and a month and a half into his fourth MLB season.
He’s no longer a prospect that may or may not stay in the majors; he’s an MLB player with 1644 career plate appearances. But his statistics don’t look a ton like those of a great MLB player.
Russell is yet to have a season where he posts a wRC+ over 100; his highest was 94 in 2016 and his career wRC+ is 90. His .696 OPS is below the league average of .727. But there’s one facet of Russell’s game that has long been anticipated to show and still hasn’t arrived with much consistency.
Where’s the power?
A big part of Addison Russell’s game as a prospect was his power. When he’s been getting hits in MLB, writers and fans alike will remind you “wait until the power comes too!” Is it still coming though?
It’s May and the Cubs have played 38 games. In those games, Russell has hit just one home run. Additionally, he’s slugging .389 while the league around him slugs .407.
If the Cubs find a team higher on Russell than they are, they could make worse decisions than to trade him to address other needs. But the truth is—even if they don’t trade him—the Cubs no longer need Russell to be great. If he’s pretty good and enough other pieces are as good as they have been around him, the Cubs will be just fine.