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.