#1: Albert Almoa, Jr.
Attempting to fill the largest vacancy on the Chicago Cubs is Albert Almora Jr. Letting Dexter Fowler walk away from the team was based on two things: money and Almora. Defensively, there is no doubt that the young center fielder is better than his predecessor. Offensively, there is much to prove.
Fowler was an on-base and run machine for the Cubs. Over 12.5 percent of all runs scored in the last two season game when Fowler crossed the plate. Hitting a few home runs helped, but so did 54 doubles and 15 triples in those seasons. Can Almora do those things as well? Maybe.
In 2016, Almora hit nine doubles in 112 at-bats. That is a higher percentage than Fowler. As a matter of fact, if you stretched Almora’s stats out over the same amount of at-bats, he hits more doubles, triples, and home runs than Fowler. And, the latter was voted the starting center fielder for the NL last year, although he did not play.
This spring, we witnessed what Almora can do. Hitting for average, home runs, doubles and stealing a few bases make him an offensive threat. Now, center field is his position to lose on Opening Day.
His range on defense will help limit what Schwarber will cover. His aggressiveness on the bags won the World Series for the Cubs in the last game. “You go, we go” is no more. Now, it is all about Almora.