If there wasn’t already enough to celebrate in last night’s 17-0 Cubs win over the Indians, I have to make special mention of a ridiculous play made by Addison Russell at second base. It was deservedly the top play of the night according to SportsCenter’s totally scientific calculations, and it was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time:
Off the bat, that’s a clear single. It’s one of those balls that, even if the shortstop (yes, shortstop) gets to it, there’s just not going to be enough time to get Mike Aviles (who stole 14 bases last year) at first.
And yet, Russell ranges to get close enough to the ball to have a tiny chance of gloving it on a full layout, does, and does his patented super fast up-and-throw. Even still, I can’t believe how strong the throw was, and how easily he nails Aviles. That was not a rocket shot. It was just a typical grounder, placed in a brutal spot. I can’t believe Russell made that play.
Quick question: better or worse than the play he made earlier this year on Billy Hamilton?
He had to range much further, and dive much further (and more precisely) to get the Aviles ball … but that’s Billy Hamilton. If you leave your feet, there’s no way you should be getting Hamilton at first.
I’m having a really hard time saying which is the better play. I think probably the Hamilton play was slightly more difficult, but it’s close. Because they were both nuts.
He’s had his fair share of errors, but, so far, the advanced defensive metrics are loving Russell at second base: his 18.0 UZR/150 is second best in baseball, and his 6 defensive runs saved are tied for fourth. Unsurprisingly, most of his value comes from his enormous range at second.
Not too bad for a 21-year-old playing second base for the first time, and at the big league level.