There was much to like from Addison Russell in 2016, though his game was far from perfect. On the bright side, he hit 21 home runs and drove in 95 runs from the shortstop position, third and first among NL shortstops, respectively. The negative case for Russell says that he's a poor contact hitter who batted just .238, confirmed by his 135 strikeouts. He has poor speed for a shortstop with only five stolen bases and got lucky with RBI by having 167 at-bats with runners in scoring position, sixth most in the league. It's easy to forget that Russell is only 23 years old, and while he will need to improve his plate discipline going forward, the fact that he's already hit 20 home runs at age 22 suggests an impressive ceiling for the Cubs' shortstop. While this position looks deeper than usual in 2017, Russell is a solid option with a high upside, especially if he has some better luck on balls in play (.277 BABIP last season).
Russell is out of the lineup Tuesday against the Pirates. The fact that the Cubs have two gold-glove caliber shortstops in Russell and Javier Baez allows them to give Russell more days off than a player of his caliber typically receives. This will be the fourth time in the last 10 games that he has been held out, a dip in playing time that has coincided with the Cubs clinching the division. Baez starts at shortstop and hits seventh Tuesday.
Russell homered and scored twice in a 2-for-4 game Monday against the Reds. Russell hit just his second home run of September, but he has five doubles this month and owns a solid .283/.333/.491 batting line in 16 games. The home run marks Russell's 21st of the year, placing him seventh among qualified shortstops this season.
Russell went picked up an RBI infield single in his only at-bat in Friday's extra-inning victory over the Brewers, tying the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth. Originally the recipient of a day off, Russell came through in a pinch-hit role in the ninth, plating Chris Coghlan on an infield single with one out. The Cubs would go on to win in the 10th inning on a Miguel Montero solo homer, while Russell has now notched a hit for the third time in the last four games.
Russell is out of the lineup Friday against the Brewers. Manager Joe Maddon is resting his stars Friday, as the team plans to celebrate following the day game, win or lose. Javier Baez will start at shortstop and hit second Friday.
Russell is not listed in the lineup for Saturday's matchup versus the Astros. Russell will be replaced by Javier Baez at shortstop. The 22-year-old has five hits in his last 18 at-bats. His next opportunity to return to the lineup will be in Sunday's series finale.