Most chatter about Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell this year revolved around value as a trade chip. But he’s proven to be much, much more than that.
Over the last few months, rumors connected the Chicago Cubs to multiple superstars, including Manny Machado and Jacob deGrom.Despite said rumors, the Cubs should hold onto Addison Russell, who’s had an impressive first half of the season.
Russell plays in the same infield as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. Bryant, a former MVP, Baez, a potential MVP-candidate this season, and Rizzo, a three-time All-Star, all overshadow him. In his own right, Russell who is still just 24 years old, has the same potential as his fellow infielders.
In 2016, Russell was named to his first All-Star Game and even received consideration, although minimal, for MVP. On his way to being named an All-Star, Russell put up career numbers prior to the All-Star Break. The shortstop put up some sensational power numbers, swatting 11 home runs while driving in 51 runs. He went on to hit a total of 21 home runs and amassed 95 RBI.
Russell expected to take another huge step forward in 2017 but that wasn’t the case. The shortstop dealt with a bum shoulder and sore foot that caused him nearly miss a whole month of the season.
Getting back on track
This season Russell has made some adjustments in his game and they have paid dividends for him and the Chicago Cubs. He is not producing the same power numbers he did in 2016, far from it in fact. To this point, Russell has done a much better job of hitting for average and getting on base.
In nearly about the same amount of games and at-bats, Russell has 80 hits this season compared to 69 in 2016. He is hitting a career-best .272 before the All-Star Break compared to his .237 batting average also back in 2016. Russell’s on base percentage is also up to a career-high .345 in the first half.
Because the shortstop is getting more hits and on base more, he has produced 44 runs for the Cubs this season. He’s scored the fifth-most runs for the Cubs which is impressive considering he mostly hits toward the bottom of the lineup.
The potential is still there for Russell and it’s evident in his play to this point. The young shortstop has tons of untapped talent that we haven’t seen yet and he’s only going to get better. Sure deGrom or Machado could help the Cubs make a run this season but the Cubs would be wise to hold onto Russell.