Chicago Cubs: Middle infielder dynamic duos throughout the years
Chicago Cubs: Russell to Baez
The Cubs led by the duo of Tinker to Evers won the 1908 World Series. Bookending 108 years of frustration is another defensive duo led the Cubs to World Series victory in 2016.
Javier Baez played more games at third (62) in 2016 than at second base (59). But his athleticism, especially his tagging ability, ensured that a middle infield spot was his future. In 2016 Baez posted a 5.5 UZR-150, nine Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and five Outs Above Average (OAA) at second. Javy was named co-MVP of the 2016 NLCS, and in the previous series against San Franciso, he made Matt Vasgersian lose his mind.
With the shift to shortstop fulltime in 2018, El Mago’s defense took a hit, but he rebounded nicely in 2019 and ranked among the best in the league. I am confident that with a reduction in errors, 15 in 2019, mostly throwing errors, there is a Gold Glove in Javy’s future.
On the other side of the bag in 2016, shortstop Addison Russell played to a 9.7 UZR-150, posting what would be a career-high 15.0 DRS on his way to a career-high mark of 27 OAA.
At the plate, Russell worked in the shadow of the more significant bats like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and his field-mate Javier Baez. Nonetheless, in 2016 he drove in 95 runs, scored 67, and along with Bryant, Baez, and Rizzo made the starting infield for the NL All-Star team making for an all Cubs starting infield.
It’s left for us to ponder what could have been had Russell not put his career on the shelf with his private life. That left the Cubs searching the last two seasons for a compliment to Javy’s defensive abilities. So far, that search has not yielded any results, and we may end up waiting to see what Nico Hoerner does when he arrives in the Show for good.