Just before yesterday’s game, we had a nice long discussion about how a few individual, isolated home runs could mean a heck of a lot more – specifically, with respect to Jason Heyward, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant.
The latter two, you see, had been on something of a home run barrage lately, and it was important to point out the developmental progress for Russell and the implications on the NL home run race for Bryant.
Well, shortly after that article was published, both of them were at it again, each adding yet another freakin home run in yesterday’s win over the Padres. Although it may seem like a number of Cubs are hot right now, these two, in particular, are in a tier above the rest … and it’s been mighty fun to watch.
Kris Bryant was first up, ripping a two-strike, one-out pitch just over the wall in left field. This one got out in a hurry:
According to Statcast, that ball left Bryant’s bat at 102 MPH, but traveled a distance of just 360 feet due to a relatively low 23 degree launch angle (especially low for Kris Bryant). Apparently, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, that ball would have left only nine stadiums as a home run, but luckily, Petco was one of them. That was Bryant’s 33rd of the season – tying him with Nolan Arenado for most in the NL – and came as part of a 1-2 night, featuring two walks. He has now hit five long balls in his past six games.
The evening also raised Bryant’s season slash line to .300/.392/.574 – good for the best wOBA in the National league (.406) and fifth highest in all of baseball. He now has a total of 6.8 WAR, just 0.1 WAR less than MLB-leading Mike Trout. Wow.
Addison Russell hit another home run last night, which was his fifth in the past five games, seventh in the month of August, and 19th of the season. According to Statcast, the ball left Russell’s bat at 103 MPH and traveled a distance of 406 feet before landing in the left field stands.
As I said, Addison Russell has now hit five homers in five straight games and has been on a path of baseball destruction throughout the month of August (81 PAs): .304/.370/.652 with 7 HRs (.417 wOBA, 162 wRC+). Here are some more facts about his homer last night and what it means historically:
Addison Russell is youngest #Cubs player to homer in 3 consecutive games since Ron Santo in 1961
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 24, 2016
Addison Russell is the 3rd shortstop in @Cubs history w/ 80 RBI in a season. Ernie Banks did it 7 times and Roy Smalley did it once
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 23, 2016
Addison Russell is now within 3 HR of Bryce Harper.
— The Athletic Chicago (@TheAthleticChi) August 24, 2016
Addison Russell now on pace for 25 home runs, 106 RBIs while playing great shortstop.
— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) August 24, 2016
His homer came as part of a 2-5 night (also featuring his 18th double of the season), which bumped his season slash line up to .251/.336/.445 with a lovely 9.8% walk rate and a manageable 23.0% strikeout rate. His wOBA is up to .333 and his wRC+ is up to 106. There’s no longer a point in creating an arbitrary cutoff to show you how good he’s been either, because his numbers are simply good over the entire season. But pick pretty much any date after the first few weeks of April (right here on FanGraphs’ Game Logs) and be amazed at how immediately his numbers shoot up across the board.
It’s been a wild ride for these two, and I hope they keep it up.