By: Alex Patt
Albert Almora Jr. was one of the first rebuild pieces that Theo Epstein and company got. Since being drafted by the Cubs sixth overall in 2012, Almora has played in 179 major league games. A small sample size, but so far he has slashed .292/.330/.777 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs. Last year alone he played in 132 games and slashed .298/.338/.782 with eight home runs. Though he was still not an everyday starter with Jon Jay taking up a lot of the time in center. In 43 of the games he appeared in, it was as a pinch-hitter, so he did not start all 132 games played in.
Overall for a kid who is only 23 he has shown a ton of promise, as well as areas where he needs work. Taking walks is one of them, as he has a career 5.5% BB rate which is something that would like to be increased if he indeed becomes a leadoff man. Also, hitting both righties and lefties more consistently. Against southpaws, Almora last year hit .342 with a .411 OBP and .898 OPS while against righties he batted .271 with a .291 OBP and .711 OPS. Pretty big difference.
Though there are some interesting stats to break down even further. Almora’s 2017 overall numbers against righties are really bad because of his home/road splits. At Wrigley Field he hit .405 with a 1.064 OPS against righties while only batting .163 with a .425 OPS against them on the road. Still not drawing walks either way, but he has crushed righties at home with the bat. He slashed .364/.394/.561 overall at Wrigley last season.
This year Almora has the chance to start most days. Last year he showed a lot of promise despite some holes. Especially in the second half when he hit .326 with an .850 OPS, he came up with some big hits in key games. Not to mention his home run off Clayton Kershaw in the NLCS and game-tying RBI single in game three of the NLDS. Playing more often can help him develop his skills further along and not have to be in and out of the line up like last year. It looks like he will be the starting centerfielder, now is the chance to prove himself as an everyday player and possibly a leadoff man.