The 2018 version of the Chicago Cubs team is filled with stars at numerous positions. From Anthony Rizzo at first to Kris Bryant at third, there isn’t much room to debate who should be in the starting lineup on a daily basis. Other than center field and the leadoff spot in the lineup, fans seem content with whatever lineup that Joe Maddon scribbles in. However, when it comes to the center field position, fans have been rallying around and pushing for more playing time for Albert Almora Jr.
The cries for Almora to get the nod in centerfield have increased dramatically. While Ian Happ’s poor start to the season and seeming inability to make contact more often than not, have been one reason for the increased belief that Almora is better suited to be the everyday centerfielder, it is not the only reason. Cubs fans have been enamored with Double A since he first broke into the majors in 2016. One reason that Almora deserves more playing time is because he has Gold Glove potential in the outfield. He reads the ball well off the bat, gets a good jump, and catches everything that he gets to. He also has a very good arm, while Ian Happ’s abilities are more suited for second base.
However, Almora hasn’t just impressed in the field. In scattered playing time, he has more than held his own at the plate. In his limited opportunities since being called up in 2016, he has a career avg. of .290 and has shown some pop from time to time. One of the big knocks on Almora is the lack of walks that he takes. However, his OBP of .338 compared favorably to Happ’s .328 OBP in 2017. Another reason that has been bandied about as to why Happ should get the bulk of playing time in center field is that he is a switch-hitter and Almora has struggled against right-handed pitching. However, without consistent playing time and at bats against right handers, that can hardly be stated as a definitive fact. Regardless of his offensive prowess, Almora’s defense warrants more playing time. If the Cubs can live with Jason Heyward’s offense in exchange for his stellar defense in right field, they surely could justify giving Almora more playing time in center field.
Stats by baseball-reference.com
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