Addison Russell continues to excel and amaze on a nightly basis over at second base.
Tuesday’s leaping snag of a rocket off the bat of fellow rookie Joc Pederson was the latest example of the unique blend of skill and athleticism Russell brings to the position.
His play at second has been remarkable considering he played a total of six games at second base (five at Triple-A Iowa, one in the 2014 Arizona Fall League) prior to making his big league debut on April 21 against the Pirates.
As of Wednesday, Baseball-Reference had Russell with a 1.3 dWAR so far, which puts him third among MLB second basemen — despite having played at least 100 fewer innings than the guys ahead of him (Dee Gordon, 1.5 dWAR; Ian Kinsler, 1.4 dWAR).
Over at FanGraphs, Russell’s Ultimate Zone Rating of 5.0 is second to Gordon’s 7.8, while his 8 Defensive Runs Saved ranks third behind Gordon (12) and Kinsler (10).
It’s early in his big league career, but Russell is already among elite company in the field.
And not just because of the highlight reel stuff like this, this or this. But even having the awareness to rotate and cover first base on a 1-6-4 double play shows that he has the feel for his position.
Seriously, just type in Addison Russell defense in MLB’s search function and clear your schedule. Or you could just click here.
If we dare extrapolate his numbers for the rest of the season, Russell is on pace for a 3-dWAR season. That would represent the third best defensive season for a rookie second baseman all-time behind Woody Williams (3.6 dWAR, 1944 Reds) and Bobby Knoop (3.3 dWAR, 1964 Angels).
All this, despite committing the second most errors (8) of anyone at the position. Only Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (9) has committed more errors than Russell.
All things considered, I wonder if Cubs fans (or more importantly, Cubs management) will ever come to a point where they are OK with Russell as the team’s everyday second baseman moving forward.
I might be in the minority, but I’m already there.[Brett: If that’s where he best serves the Cubs’ purposes, then I definitely have no problem with it. His defensive upside at second base is pretty clearly significant. I do still wonder about that upside on the other side of second base, though … ]