Chicago Cubs: No need for Christian Yelich; Albert Almora is the future

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Almora showing marked improvement

Have we forgotten about Albert Almora? He’s reason number one why the clamoring for Yelich should be taken down a notch. Almora got a taste of the big leagues in 2016, and for the most part, he had an impressive rookie campaign.

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His .277/.308/.455 rookie slash line was a good indication that he was ready to face major league pitching. Consequently, he stepped into a larger role in 2017. And by almost every measurement, he showed marked improvement.

After playing in just 47 games in 2016, Almora played in 132 games in 2017, posting a slash line of .298/.338/.445 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 323 plate appearances.

Can he hit righties?

The real dubiety of Almora being the everyday center fielder next season revolves around his ability to hit right-handed pitching. Almora was dominant against left-handers and less so against right-handers. The narrative, though, is that he is completely inept against right-handers, which is simply not true.

This season, Almora slashed .271/.291/.420 against right-handers. And interestingly enough, he actually crushed righties at home, though in an admittedly small sample size. Against lefties, he slashed .342/.411/.486.

There isn’t a considerable discrepancy between his strikeout percentages against left and right handed pitchers. His walk rate, however, is a paltry three percent against right-handers. That’s one area of his game that needs to progress in 2018. And judging by his steps forward from the previous season, it’s not at all unreasonable to think he’ll make that progress.