Chicago Cubs: Addison Russell proving himself to the front office

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(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Addison Russell is lighting it up offensively and defensively more often than not as of late for the Chicago Cubs.

Since June 1, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell carries a .305/.368/.457 line with a wRC+ of 122. In that total of 31 games, he’s hitting the baseball hard more often with a 27.9 percent hard contact rate and 55.8 medium contact rate and soft contact rate below 20 percent. He’s got a 17.1 percent strikeout rate over this stretch, too.

For the season, his OPS sits at a career high of .755. To compare that to his All-Star season, Russell finished 2016 with a .738 OPS.

This is a big season for the young infielder after a down 2017 campaign that saw a dip in power and various injuries that kept him out for extensive time. He’s already played in 80 games this season after only 110 last season total. He played in 152 games in 2016.

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Some other comparisons to the 2017 season include his 2.4 WAR. He already has a 2.6 WAR in 2018. He walked a total of 29 times in 2017 but already has 29 walks this season.

Turning things around

He came into the season as a guy the Cubs didn’t necessarily need, and after a down 2017 season, some thought moving Javier Baez to shortstop might be the better move for the team.

When Baez plays shortstop, that opens up a spot for Ben Zobrist. Of, course he mainly plays a combination of corner outfield or second base.

Offensively, his April was atrocious, as was most of the Cubs offense. However, over the last two months he’s seemed to return to form of a defensive specialist with a high upside bat.

Russell’s power is still down as he only has five long balls for the season. However, the Cubs don’t exactly need him to hit home runs regularly. If he can maintain this pace to go with his stellar defensive capabilities, he can help this team reach the World Series once again.

Machado rumors put to rest by Russell himself

To put it all into perspective, Russell slashed .250/.326/.333 with a wRC+ of 79 in April. While Manny Machado trade rumors surfaced, he’s quietly rebounded and become a key piece for this Cubs team.

Since May 1, he’s slashing .293/.362/.436 with a wRC+ of 116. His strikeout rate is at a healthy 22.7 percent. He’s slugged five home runs, but also hitting the ball more up the middle (40.9 percent) or to the opposite field (32.4 percent) rather than pulling (26.8 percent) the ball on the ground as we saw much in April.

That said, he still hits the ball on the ground (37.9 percent GB rate since May 1) more than slugging fly balls (36.4 percent fly ball rate) but with his medium and hard contact rates both higher than soft contact rate, it doesn’t matter.

Next: Rosario filling the left-handed need in the pen

As the Cubs enter the Al-Star break at the end of this week, it will be interesting to see how Russell maintains his consistent approach he’s developed over the last two months in the second half.

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