How Addison Russell Will Stay Healthy and Continue to Develop at the Plate, and Other Bullets

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How Addison Russell Will Stay Healthy and Continue to Develop at the Plate, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

One of the upside byproducts of having a child with developmental delays is the overwhelming joy you feel when they do something they haven’t done before, which is completely different than the feeling was when your typically-developing children hit milestones they were expected to be hitting.

The Littlest Girl was at a singalong yesterday when, out of nowhere, she started moving her hand up and down in rhythm with the song and the other children who were patting their legs to the song. The internal explosion of happiness The Wife and I felt from something so simple – so easy for other children – was enough to fill me up for the rest of the day, and it’s carrying over into today, too.

  • Setting aside the off-the-field issues in his family life, last season was a rough one for Addison Russell at the plate and in the trainer’s room (probably not unrelated to each other). Russell battled a sore shoulder all season, and then missed a month late in the year with plantar fasciitis in his foot. He tells NBC that his offseason preparation is largely focused on those injury issues to ensure they don’t drag on him this season. In a way, you’re almost glad he dealt with both things last season the way he did, which put him in a position to best prepare for this year with those ailments in mind. At just 24, he should physically be in the best possible spot to manage those kinds of nagging things, and the Cubs will also have it on their radar to be very proactive about his throwing and footwork in the spring. The conversation about whether he and the Cubs would be best served by flip-flopping Russell and Javy Baez in the middle infield will continue into the spring, but if Russell is completely healthy, shortstop is where he belongs.
  • As for the bat, despite a wRC+ that was 10 points lower than the year before (just 84), I’m really not sure Russell didn’t actually develop a bit: his ISO was the same, his BABIP increased, his hard contact increased, his soft contact dramatically decreased, and his groundball rate decreased. Most of the regression in his numbers came from a walk rate decline, but his contact rate and swinging strike rate actually went down. So that’s good. The things that went south for him, though, were his rates swinging at pitches in and out of the strike zone, which each went slightly in the wrong direction. My guess is that the league adjusted a bit to him, and he didn’t have an opportunity to fully adjust back in the second half because of his injuries. When he was able to be on the field in the second half, you’ll note, he hit an excellent .274/.324/.516 with a 111 wRC+.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • As the pace-of-play fight turns public, I appreciated getting the incredibly well-articulated thoughts on the subject from Indians reliever Andrew Miller here at ESPN. From Miller’s perspective, the players are on board with improving the game’s pace – they know it’s an entertainment business, and they have to do their part to help keep things entertaining for as many fans as possible. A lot of the players simply don’t believe a pitch clock is the best way to do that without harming the unique “there is no clock” aspect of baseball.
  • For their part, the staff at Baseball America, who’ve been covering the minor leagues extensively since a pitch clock was implemented there three years ago, offer their thoughts on the way it impacts the viewing experience and the on-field experience. Another very good read. Super short version? They don’t notice it at all.
  • This is just awesome:

  • A random flashback because it’s fun and great and smart and it’s January:

  • That reminds me – you do like us on Facebook, right? If not, give it a click – and if you do like us, maybe share with your friends? Either way, you are swell:

  • Incredible stretch of pure control (he’s still looking for a job, by the way, at age 44):

  • Over at The Ten-Yard Line, several new Bears coaches admit that the chance to work with Mitch Trubisky was a big draw for them.
  • Well that’d be something smart to have right about now: a digital tire pressure gauge on a big sale at Amazon, just $8.47.
  • A Twitter exchange last night prompts a fun question: what’s the crazy record/feat you’d most want to follow someone or some team challenging this season? Another home run race? Someone seriously challenging Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak? A team breaking the wins record? Someone hitting .399 as the calendar turns to September? Slide on down to the comments and offer your thoughts.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.