Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Five players who need big seasons in 2017

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Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber hits a RBI single against the Cleveland Indians in the 5th inning in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs player Kyle Schwarber hits a RBI single against the Cleveland Indians in the 5th inning in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 24, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. (5) dives for the ball in the third inning aginst the Cleveland Indians during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. (5) dives for the ball in the third inning aginst the Cleveland Indians during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Albert Almora, OF

Albert Almora is just 23 years old. The youngster has been with the Cubs since 2012 when he was taken in the first round of the MLB draft.

At just 22 years of age, Almora made his big league debut. In 47 games for the Cubs in 2016, Almora slashed .277/.308/.455 with three home runs and 14 RBI. While those numbers were good for a young rookie, Almora’s play defensively has made him a valuable piece to the Cubs outfield in 2017.

That defensive ability was on display last Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As you can see, Almora can play defense. The only thing that is concerning for Cubs fans and coaches are his offensive numbers.

Promising start in small sample size

In a small sample size of 47 games last year, Almora had a strikeout rate of 17.9 percent. That is not bad considering Almora is hitting over .400 so far this season. It is an insanely small sample size of just 13 at-bats, but Almora is slashing .462/.533/.538. So far, Almora is stepping up to help fill the void left by Dexter Fowler.

The Cubs will need Almora to have a breakout year at the dish. Don’t expect him to hit 30 home runs, but 15 to 17 home runs is possible. Couple that with what Cubs fans hope will be a high OBP and great defense, and Almora should be a breakout star for the Cubs in 2017.

A breakout season will be just what the doctor ordered for Almora, who is looking to step into the full-time center fielder’s role at some point in the near future. For now, Almora is splitting time with Jason Heyward and Jon Jay in center field. If he can have a good season in 2017, he will earn the majority of the reps in center moving forward.

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