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 went 1-for-3 and scored the only run of the game in a 1-0 win over the Pirates on Tuesday. On a day in which Gerrit Cole and two Pittsburgh relievers limited the Cubs to just two hits, Russell's second-inning double was the highlight for Chicago's offense. Russell is now slashing .291/.341/.468, all of which are ahead of his rates from 2016.
Russell went 4-for-6 with an RBI and three runs scored during Monday's 14-3 win over the Pirates. Russell singled in each of his first four trips to the plate, driving in a run in the first inning and scoring on three occasions as the Cubs walloped Chad Kuhl and the rest of the Pittsburgh staff. He had gotten off to a nice start as a run producer, but Russell has now begun to hit for average and has seen his OPS rise 120 points thanks to collecting nine base knocks over the last five contests.
Russell went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI in Sunday's loss to the Reds. Russell is once again looking like a very solid contributor for the Cubs and fantasy owners. He's hitting .257, and after last season's .238 mark, owners shouldn't expect too much in terms of average. However, it's nice to see that his strikeout rate is down to 17.1 percent so far this season; he posted a 22.6 percent mark in 2016 and a 28.5 percent rate in his 2015 rookie season. If he can keep the whiffs down, Russell should be able to top his 2016 numbers.
Russell went 2-for-4 with a walk-off, three-run home run, four RBI and a stolen base during Wednesday's win over Milwaukee. The shortstop is now up to 12 RBI, and with him primarily hitting fifth in the lineup, Russell should continue to receive plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. Don't overreact to his stolen base, though. He was the second runner on a double steal in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the throw went ahead of him to third base -- he's unlikely to flirt with double-digit steals.
Russell is out of the lineup Tuesday against the Brewers. Russell has played in 11 consecutive games and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Monday's contest, so the Cubs will rest him Tuesday and start Javier Baez at shortstop. Look for Russell to return to his regular spot in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale against Milwaukee.
|vs POMERANZ (CAREER)||0/0||---||0||0||0||0||0|