Earlier today, we discussed how the terrible first two innings yesterday put the Cubs well behind the Reds early on and led to manager Joe Maddon’s dismissal for arguing balls and strikes.
However, some believe that a well-timed manager ejection can light a fire in one’s team and cause great things to happen thereafter. Well, not one inning later, the Cubs manager to crush three home runs and bring the game within a run.
Check it out:
The first home run for the Cubs came off the bat of Javy Baez – his ninth of the season. The ball left his bat traveling at 97.1 MPH and landed 391 feet from home. And while it may not have been the most crushed ball of the day – indeed, it would have only left 10 parks in the league, according to the Home Run Tracker – it did come on an two strike count, underscoring the huge improvements Baez has been able to make at the plate. Baez also added a walk on the day and is now hitting .272/.313/.460 with 9 home runs (1.4 WAR) overall.
The second home run for the Cubs, by contrast, was the furthest and hardest hit of the day, coming off the bat of Kris Bryant – his 25th of the season and second in two days. The ball left his bat traveling at 105.9 MPH and landed 398 feet from home. It would have left all 30 MLB parks, and marked Bryant’s takeover for most home runs in the Majors in 2016 (25). Bryant finished the game 1-5, and is now hitting .278/.370/.578 with 25 home runs (4.3 WAR) overall.
The third home run in the game (and the inning) came from shortstop Addison Russell – his 10th of the season and second in two days, as well. His was the second hardest hit ball of the day, coming off the bat at 103.7 MPH while traveling 382 feet. Oddly, with an angle of 21.8 degrees, it would have left only a total of three ball parks in MLB. Luckily, Wrigley Field was one of them. Russell finished the game 2-4 with another big hit later on, so before we get to his season stats, let’s check out what else he did for the Cubs.
After Russell’s two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning, the Cubs had pulled within a run of the Reds. Unfortunately, that lead wouldn’t last as the Reds then added on in the top of the fourth. Even still, an inning later, Russell added his 11th shot of the season, third in two days and second of the game. That home run, like the first, would have left only a handful of stadiums in the bigs because of the angle (23.5 degrees), but was still really well struck (101.1 MPH, 386 feet).
Check it out:
That dinger (that’s for you, Brett) also capped off a 2-4 day, and took Russell’s season batting line to .242/.338/.416 – which, by my eye, brings his season wRC+ up to an even 100. Combined with his well above average (darn near gold glove caliber) defense, you have yourself a very valuable player. But you know we can’t just stop there. Out of curiosity and the feeling that he’d been heating up lately, I decided to take a peak back into Russell’s numbers over the past few weeks, but I did not expect to find what I did.
Check out his numbers since June 11:
Ready for your mind to be blown?
Addison Russell in last 92 PAs:
.276/.391/.592 7 HRs, .316 ISO, .409 wOBA, 158 wRC+
WITH A .280 BABIP!
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) July 6, 2016
Right under our noses, the Cubs young shortstop has been blossoming into an offensive force and we hardly took notice. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I knew he’d been better lately, but I had no idea it was to this extent.
And given the fact that his career BABIP is actually a fair amount higher (.314) than it was during that stretch, it seems that Russell was due for a bit more luck than he was actually awarded by the baseball gods. It hasn’t been like this all season, of course, but it seems that he turned a pretty significant corner a long time ago and hasn’t looked back since.