I’d like to add onto the sentiment expressed by my writing peer, the honorable Rob Neyer: Russ Canzler is a vastly underrated player that will, if nothing else, hit in the big leagues.
Let me speak first of Russ’s character, which I feel will be something severely neglected (as it always is when we start evaluating players in terms of numbers) You will not find a finer individual in the game of baseball today. A total class act who speaks from humility if he speaks at all. I wish I possessed some of the admirable character traits that he does, both on and off the field.
As for his on field ability, Russ does posses an amazing athletic talent. Although he did struggle defensively a tad this past season, he was also platooned for the sake of keeping his bat in the line up. I do not doubt that while Russ was thankful for the chance to show his diversity, he also suffered do the a lack of consistency at a position. I’m sure that Russ will benefit from being groomed for a specific role, though it’s nice to know that he’s athletic enough to play multiple ones, especially for an AL team that needs his bat in the clutch.
And what a bat Russ has, too. He swings an absolute log—one of the heaviest I’ve seen used by hitters in my career. But that is part of his game. What I was so impressed by when watching Russ play is that his swing is really a compact, effortless thing. He never tries to do too much with the ball, no extra moving parts that jerk the bat from its path in the trade off of control for power. He trusts his swing and his hands and lets that bat supply the pop. He also has good plate coverage and his swing allows him to drive the ball to all parts of the field.
Russ has a tremendous upside because his contact and power production are excellent while his on field potential has been relatively underdeveloped. Frankly, you can find a place for a guy in the AL that can hit and fill holes, but I believe Russ can do more than fill holes. I believe he can flourish, and just needs a chance to prove it.
The Indians have chosen wisely. I wish Russ all the best. He deserves it.
He also REALLY likes Clif Bars. So much so that I was commissioned to created the following during our season together.