Let’s Quickly Break Down Addison Russell’s Incredible Diving Stop

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t flinch when one of the game’s premier shortstops made a phenomenal play to help seal Tuesday’s win. Actually, I’m lying. I threw a few Pedro Strop-esque fist pumps after Addison Russell dove like an Olympic swimmer to steal a hit from Ryan Braun.

I mean, good gracious, what an insane play.

Let me emphasize the difficulty of Russell’s web gem. First, Braun smoked Strop’s pitch over 102 mph on one hop rope to Russell’s right side. And it wasn’t an ordinary hop, we’re talking about a ricocheted liner nearly off the lip at the back of the infield dirt. Do you know how difficult a read that is?

Normally a hit 68 percent of the time according to Statcast, Braun’s grounder was met gracefully by an extended Russell, who got up within nanoseconds and fired a strike to Anthony Rizzo.  Plus, he he did all of that mere minutes after entering the game as a late-inning defensive sub.

I know, David Bote, I get it. Every time Russell fields a grounder like that, I give the same look.

The reality is no team fields a better defense when Russell, Albert Almora Jr., Javy Baez, and Jason Heyward are in the lineup. Daniel Murphy’s existence complicates things and forces Joe Maddon to trade defense for offense. But if Almora and Ian Happ continue to struggle at the dish with Heyward recovering from a hamstring injury, I’d rather see Russell play more with Javy at third base and Murphy at second.

You got to at least admit it’s fun to see the baseball vacuum on the left side of the diamond in the form of Russell and/or Baez.

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2 Comments

  1. That was insane! And the one before was no gimme either. If anyone thinks Javy is a better SS, all one needs is to point to them 2 plays.
    Elite at 2cnd and third, definitely, and the best on the team by a mile. But Addison can make plays (as you have analyzed so well) that Javy just can’t.
    To me, there’s a threshold for a player to have value. If Heyward can get close to a .750 ops 100 wRC+ he’s valuable. Same with Addison.
    Murphy is on the other end. He needs .850 ops and 130wRC+ minimum to make up for the kind of defense Cubs fans have had the luxury of not seeing on this team for years now.
    I’d like to see them hide him against certain hitters and move him around mid inning.
    Bote has been exposed, he can’t be counted on, except in the right matchups until he can adjust to pitches up.

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