Chicago Cubs: No. 29: Addison Russell
Addison Russell has had a tumultuous tenure with the Chicago Cubs and he’s likely played his final game with the team. However, we can’t forget the contributions that he did make to the team on the field, especially in the early part of his career.
The Cubs traded for Russell when he was still in the minor leagues during the 2014 season. The team surprised a lot of fans by bringing Russell up to the majors early in the 2015 campaign, shortly after bringing Kris Bryant up. In 142 games that year, Russell smacked 29 doubles and hit 13 home runs while driving in 54. He saw time at both second base and shortstop and played phenomenally, posting a defensive WAR of 2.6.
Russell looked like he was becoming a star during the 2016 season. He hit 21 home runs and drove in 95 while continuing to play elite defense, this time as the everyday shortstop. However, while he did contribute over the next two seasons, he didn’t come close to his 2016 production at the plate (though he continued to play great defense). Eventually, he was moved back to second base to make way for Javier Baez.
In 2018, Russell accepted a suspension for off-the-field conduct and when he came back in 2019 he struggled mightily. Again, it’s hard not to judge Russell based on his off-the-field issues. But when we look past that, we can see that he was an important part of the team the past few years, particularly in 2015 and 2016.