Chicago Cubs need Albert Almora to find sustained success this season

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: It’s time to grind it out over the course of 162

If there’s one thing you can say about Albert Almora, it’s that when he sees his pitch, he makes the most of it. He might not launch balls off the scoreboard like some of his teammates, but he makes solid contact and has well above-average baserunning skills.

Maddon will go with the mix-and-match strategy we’ve seen since he came to Chicago when it comes to building a lineup. But you can do that and still have that one guy who sets the table for the other seven position players in the lineup on a daily basis. This is the year Albert Almora needs to become that guy for the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Almora put up a .797 OPS – including a .368 on-base percentage – out of the leadoff spot. He can hit both left and right-handed pitchers, which has proven to be a thorn in the side of multiple other guys on this team (Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, etc). There’s no reason to platoon him like we’ve done in the past.

If Almora can work more counts and bump up that walk rate in 2019, there’s no reason he can’t cement himself as the Chicago Cubs center fielder of the future. That’s not taking a shot at Happ, but with Ben Zobrist likely in his last season on the team, Happ can pivot into more of the stopgap, ‘play wherever you need me’ role.

dark. Next. What role will Happ play for the 2019 Cubs?

The talent is there. We saw that on full display last season. Now, it’s about rolling with the punches and proving that, even under a manager like Joe Maddon, there’s a place for a ‘traditional’ leadoff hitter on a new-age team like the Cubs.