by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Let’s preface this by saying that there is upside in Addison Russell, especially long-term. He played last season at 21-years old and showed promise, so in time there’s a good chance that he realizes his full potential. In 2016, however, it’s fair to be skeptical that he can get there (or reasonably close).
He certainly didn’t blow anyone away with his rookie season numbers:
475 At Bats
.242 Batting Average (115 Hits)
13 Home Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.307 On Base Percentage
.389 Slugging Percentage
.324 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Obviously the biggest issue is his average, and there’s ample reason to remain concerned despite his “improvement” in the second half (.259). It’s easy to point towards an improved strikeout rate, though no one is going to brag about a 25.8% mark (31.1% prior to the All-Star Break). He also showed no improvement in his Whiff% against Offspeed pitches or breaking balls throughout the season (only displaying months with at least 50 AB):
Overall he posted a 13.7% SwStr%, though it actually rose slightly to 13.8% in the second half (despite the drop in strikeouts). The struggles are justified given his age and relative lack of experience at the upper levels, but there is little reason to think that he’s going to fully figure it out quickly.
When you couple the likelihood of strikeouts with the line drive regression, there’s reason to be concerned about his average.
There is a little bit more speed than he showed last season as well as the potential for a little bit more pop (29 doubles, average distance on non-groundballs of 264.397), though neither is enough to move the needle. That’s not to say that he couldn’t go 15/10, with the potential for more, but the average risk prevents it from getting us overly excited.
According to Stats his current NFBC ADP is 139.40, which doesn’t seem particularly inflated. However that puts him ahead of Billy Burns (153.16), Raisel Iglesias (161.40), Michael Conforto (175.92) and a host of others who offer more upside and arguably less risk. You could argue he belongs in the same class as Joc Pederson (less power, but a different position), who is going nearly 40 picks later (176.56).
There’s a better chance that Russell hits .230 than .270, and without significant power or speed (yet) that’s not enough. Long-term would we love to own him? Absolutely, but given the cost/risk it’s highly unlikely he’s on any of my teams in 2016.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps, Brooks Baseball, CBS Sports, STATS
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