Because the Cubs have two of the best defensive middle infielders in baseball right now – Addison Russell and Javy Baez – Cubs fans are spoiled with highlights like these far too often.
In fact, on more than one occasion, we’re even treated to plays that are so impressive, we want to share them up even though they don’t result in an out.
Yesterday, for example, Addison Russell made one of the most gosh-darn impressive diving stops, exchanges, and throws you’ll ever see. And although it didn’t end up getting to first in time, it was just way too awesome to ignore:
Hell of an effort pic.twitter.com/BrxaW2Po2Y
— Someone (@Someone20241575) June 12, 2018
The fact that Russell even got to that ball – a 94 MPH single up the middle by Lorenzo Cain – is one thing, but his stop, his pop, his exchange, and his strong, accurate throw make it an unbelievably impressive overall performance.
On the broadcast, Len Kasper correctly pointed out that if it were a catcher running, so to speak, Russell would’ve nailed him. Cain is a fast runner and gave Russell almost no chance to get him, despite perfectly form, and, again, a good, strong throw (which is always nice to see from Russell, who’s dealt with shoulder issues in the past (he made another very strong throw from deep in the hole earlier in the game, too)).
As of this morning, Addison Russell has the 10th highest overall defensive rating (among all qualified Major Leaguers), according to FanGraphs. And among all qualified shortstops, of which there are MANY talented ones right now, Russell’s 9 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is tied for first (by UZR he ranks 7th). The metrics for a half-season aren’t reliable in isolation, but they get pretty darn close when they are when they square with multiple years of data and the eye test.
So, basically, he’s about as good as it gets on defense and the Cubs are very lucky to have him at one of the most important positions on the field.