Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

addison russell cubs batIf you pick and choose and cut and slice, you can make just about any player’s performance, for a given stretch, look decent. I don’t want to play that game too much here, but I do want to mention that, after his first week in the big leagues – at 21 years old, with almost no experience above AA – Addison Russell has been fantastic.

Indeed, after that first week, Russell is hitting .284/.346/.500 with a .367 wOBA and a 130 wRC+. For any player, that’s very good. For a 21-year-old shortstop who’s learning second base on the fly at the big league level? It’s almost insane.

That would be good for the 6th best wRC+ at second base in all of baseball, and the fourth best wOBA.

Last night, Russell got a hanging curveball and ripped it deep to left:

There’s plenty of power in that bat, and although he’s batting 9th right now as he adjusts to the big leagues, there’s every reason to believe Russell will soon be a guy who bats much higher in the order.

The Cubs are loaded with young talent at the big league level and in the minors, and Russell is often among the overlooked guys – even though he was a consensus top five prospect in all of baseball heading into this year. The reasons there are many and layered (he didn’t come up in the Cubs’ system, he was “just one of many” top Cubs infielders, he wasn’t expected to be up this soon, he’s batting 9th, etc.), but hopefully he’s finding his way on everyone’s radar these days. Russell is an elite young talent, and is every bit as important to the Cubs going forward as any other young player you could name.

It’s been a treat to watch his plate appearances improve as his time in the big leagues has grown after a whirlwind start, which is why, in his case, I don’t think it’s entirely arbitrary to chop that first week off, and look at the guy he’s been in the last 21 games.

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