Cubs IF Addison Russell has been tendered a contract for the 2019 season and is expected to remain with the Northsiders for the 2019 season, barring a trade. Russell’s on-field performance has regressed significantly since his All-Star season in 2016, when he helped propel the team to a division championship and World Series title by slashing .238/.321/.417 with a .738 OPS, 21 HR and 95 RBI during the regular season campaign. In 2018, Russell hit .250/.317/.340 with an OPS of .657, 5 HR and 38 RBI.
Russell’s defenders note he is just 24 years old, not yet in his prime performance years, and there is time for him to return to his All-Star form. However, when I was examining his career advanced offensive stats, I noticed that his best season, 2016, was actually somewhat underwhelming outside of the home run and RBI numbers. Russell has been average to below-average in terms of hitting for power for his entire career, even in 2016.
Take a look at the following sample of advanced stats from 2016:
95 (5% below league average)
94 (6% below league average)
Hard Hit %
I find it somewhat odd that a player who drove in nearly 100 runs ended up with a wRC+ under league average. This leads me to believe Russell’s 2016 RBI total was a fluke resulting from the good fortune to be hitting behind teammates who were consistently getting into scoring position (*2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant*).
Thanks to this analysis, I believe the Cubs front office is likely overvaluing the young infielder, so I do not have high hopes that they will complete a trade ahead of the 2019 season.
I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).