Chicago Cubs need Albert Almora to find sustained success this season

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: An All-Star snub for the young outfielder?

Last spring, Happ and Almora battled for the starting center field spot. Ultimately, the former came out on top after a scorching Cactus League showing in which he put up an 1.211 OPS with seven homers and 12 RBI in just 19 games.

But after belting the first long-ball of the Major League campaign, Happ went into a tailspin, hitting just .226 in May – on the heels of a .246 clip in March and April. Meanwhile, his center field counterpart, Almora started solid – and only got hotter as temperatures climbed.

The biggest criticism with Almora has been and will likely continue to be his seeming inability to draw enough walks to make him a constant threat at the dish. Despite his first-half success in 2018, that rang true – the young outfielder once again relied on base hits to push his on-base percentage to where it needed to be.

Almora batted .289 with a .341 OBP over the season’s first month but built on that modest success to hit .338 with a .390 on-base percentage in May before peaking in June – batting .363 with a .375 OBP. Over the course of 96 June plate appearances (his most in a single month last season), he drew a grand total of two walks.

Heading into the All-Star Break, the former first-rounder found himself in the midst of a breakout campaign. He carried a .795 OPS (on pace for a new career-high) with a .319 average – all while regularly robbing opponents of base hits with out-of-his-mind defense in center field.