In his first at bat against Luke Weaver yesterday, Addison Russell could only be described as sizing the young starter up. (Sorry, did I describe Weaver as “the young starter” in relation to Russell? I probably shouldn’t. Russell turned 22 in January, and Weaver turns 23 next weekend.)
Russell, like a savvy veteran, watched the first three pitches from Weaver, all fastballs. By the fourth pitch, Russell was ready to take a rip, and fouled off Weaver’s first changeup of the at bat. The next pitch was a fastball again, just out of the zone. Full count. From there, Russell fouled off three straight – two fastballs and a changeup. Spoiling good pitches. Biding his time.
And then Weaver made a bad mistake with his changeup on his 9th pitch of the at bat, and Russell unloaded:
That was just a great at bat all around, and, of course, a great outcome.
The homer was Russell’s 14th of the year, one more than last season. Together with two walks and a single on the day, the homer helped bring his season line up to .247/.336/.417, good for a nice even 100 wRC+. A league average bat at shortstop with that glove? Oh yes, you’d very gladly take that.
But, then, Russell is just 22 years old. His offensive upside – demonstrated in thoughtful, productive at bats like that one – is still really significant.
And, even at this level of production, Russell has already been worth 2.9 WAR this season, behind only Corey Seager and Brandon Crawford at shortstop in the NL. Remember when he was getting flack for being voted an All-Star?