Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora Jr. off to a hot start in spring training

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Cactus League results are not necessarily indicative of regular season success, but the Chicago Cubs have to like what they’re seeing from Albert Almora.

It was a tale of two seasons for Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora in 2018.

Almora was one of the bigger snubs from last season’s All-Star Game. Not only was he flashing Gold Glove-caliber defense, but he posted a first-half slash line of .319/.357/.438 in 276 at-bats across 86 contests.

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Similar to the Cubs’ offense as a whole, the second half was extremely unkind to Almora. In 66 games/168 at-bats, he delivered a lowly .232/.267/.280 slash line.

The 24-year-old hit at least .300 in April, May and June only to hit .242 or worse in each of the next three months. His 47 wRC+ in the second half was a far fall from his above-average 115 wRC+ in the first half.

Thus, spring training or not, what Almora has done offensively this spring should be a positive indicator for the Cubs. He has five hits in 16 at-bats, one home run and just one strikeout.

In a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Almora admitted his second half struggles were all mental last season.

"“I think it was all mental. I just wanted to do more. The first half I did really well, but I still wanted to do more than that,” Almora said. “It’s tough. As a competitor, I didn’t feel like that was enough.”"

On the one hand, Almora’s drive is admirable; wanting to take one’s game to the next level should never be frowned upon. At the same time, there is such a thing as playing within oneself. Perhaps Almora was pressing too much last season in order to continue upping his game.

As his first half numbers indicate, Almora was doing just fine as is. Whether or not he can hit .319 for an entire season is still to be determined.

For the Cubs, having an Almora closer to the April-June 2018 version would go a long way for an offense that scored one run or less in 40 games. Even a more consistent version of Almora’s final 2018 numbers (.286/.323/.378) would help.

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Spring training results mean nothing. Still, if Almora’s current offensive production is a sign of things to come, the Cubs’ lineup will only be more formidable in 2019.