The Cubs couldn’t pull off the series sweep yesterday over the Rangers, which is no real shame, given that the Rangers are really good, and a series win is plenty good.
And while the bats didn’t give Cubs fans too much to savor from the loss, the gloves certainly did. If you weren’t watching, or if you just want to see again, you’ve gotta check out Albert Almora Jr.’s crashing catch into the ivy (and the brick behind it):
That’s a double off the bat, especially given where the ball ended up and how quickly it got there. But Almora, as you well know, covers an insane amount of ground out there, and gets to the ball relatively easily (for him). But even still, actually gloving that ball in a way as to minimize the potential injury-inducing impact with the wall was impressive – many outfielders would have been able to get into a position to dive for that ball, but Good Lord you would never want anyone diving for that ball.
In just 167.0 innings, Almora already has 4 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), which would be good for 13th among all NL outfielders if he had enough innings to qualify. Except it’s a counting stat, so the fact that he’s already at 4 DRS despite the few innings (the leaders have around 700 innings) is all the more impressive. If you pro-rate his DRS over even just 600 innings, he’s the NL leader by a good margin. The guy is very, very special out there.
But he’s not the only special, young Cubs defender out there. While he hasn’t had quite as many jaw-dropping plays this year, Addison Russell continues to play highly effective defense at the most important defensive position.
And he can still drop your jaw:
Earning those fire emojis. 🔥🔥🔥https://t.co/MQNk1t47kZ
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 17, 2016
(1) Getting to that ball? Ridiculous. (2) Being able to get up quickly enough to get off a throw that makes the play close? Ridiculous. (3) Actually getting the guy by several steps? Wonkers.
Russell hasn’t been at the defensive pace he was last year when his combined metrics at second and shortstop indicated he was one of the best defensive players in all of baseball. But he’s still been right around the fifth best defensive shortstop in the NL, depending on your preferred advanced stats.
That whole Rangers series was full of defensive gems for the Cubs, and it makes you wonder if that’s one way the rest from the break manifests itself in game action.