After re-tooling his approach this offseason, Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora is looking locked in at the dish in hopes of a rebound in 2020.
It’s way too soon to think Albert Almora is back on track. Still, after most folks (myself included) thought the Chicago Cubs could and should look to move on from the former first-rounder during the offseason, the early returns thus far in spring training have been promising, to say the least.
In a pair of Cactus League games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a home run – capped by Monday’s three-hit effort in a win over Seattle. So far this spring, he’s got a pair of extra-base hits and the changes in his stance have been visibly notable, just as he told the media they would be earlier in the winter.
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“It was too hard to change something during the season,” Almora told MLB.com. “During the year, you have a mindset, and it’s tough. But in the offseason, I was trying to slow everything down and I bought into what both of those guys were saying.”
Almora is coming off what is undoubtedly the worst season of his big league career. He managed a horrendous 64 wRC+ with an underwhelming .271 on-base percentage across 363 plate appearances.
Prior to 2019, he’d managed to buoy his below-average on-base skills with high amounts of contact. But without that last season, he really cratered offensively.
But that’s all in the past. At least, that’s the hope for both Almora and Chicago. The Cubs are rolling the dice by bringing back largely the same group of position players as last year, betting on a rebound and a change in clubhouse culture brought on by the leadership of David Ross.
There is perhaps no player more in need of a bounceback campaign than Almora. He completely changed his mechanics at the dish during the offseason, in hopes of getting himself ready to drive the ball quicker, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
“It’s not to worry about timing,” Almora said. “Not to be guessing or feeling like you have to be perfect for your swing to be right there. Having this alleviates my mind a little bit. I can see the ball coming. See the ball, hit the ball. I have a little bit more time to react.”
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Like I said, we can’t draw conclusions on a pair of Cactus League games. But a productive Almora in center field could go a long way in boosting the Cubs’ chances of returning to the top of the division this season and shoring up pretty questionable depth.