Jim Russell was one of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ main outfielders from 1943 through 1947. Russell was a switch hitter who was a local kid having been born in Fayette City. Throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Russell was a productive batter. He hit .277/.367/.407 with a .368 wOBA, 114 wRC+, and 114 OPS+.
Russell put up a wRC+ of at least 105 in 4 of the 5 seasons where he played most of the time (he appeared in 5 games in 1942). Overall, he had 40 home runs and 51 stolen bases. He only struck out in 9.5% of his 3022 plate appearances while drawing a walk 11.9% of the time. He was also a decent defender out in left field, putting up +9 total zone runs in the grass.
Russell’s best season was in 1944. This was his age-25 campaign. He batted for a strong .312/.399/.460 line, .403 wOBA, and 138 wRC+/137 OPS+. He was also quite a good defender this year with +4 TZ. Russell had a 5.7 fWAR. He was just 1 of 29 other qualified batters to have a wOBA above .400 while being one of 18 batters to have at least 5 fWAR. He even finished 29th in MVP voting but didn’t get to participate in the All-Star game.
The switch hitter left Pittsburgh between the 1947 and 1948 seasons in a trade with the Boston Braves that ended up getting a player who would eventually become one of their most famous coaches and managers in the franchise’s history, the late Danny Murtagh, who at the time was an infielder.
The outfielder never reached the heights he had as a Pirate, having a 95 OPS+, 99 wRC+, and .342 wOBA during his time with the Braves and eventually the Brooklyn Dodgers. Plus, he only played one season where he appeared in more than 100 games just one time after leaving the Bucs.