Cubs David Ross’ centerfield decision could be a tough one

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

With Opening Day just over three weeks away, Chicago Cubs skipper David Ross will have a tough decision to make on who his starting Center Fielder will be.

The Chicago Cubs heading into spring training were pretty much set at most positions. There will be a few spots up for grabs to be set during the remainder of the spring. Second base, 5th starter, and the bullpen all are looking for guys to step up and take the job. The most talked-about competition is probably for the starting center fielder between Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ.

Both Happ and Almora had an exciting 2019. Happ spent most of the season in Triple-A Iowa after an awful spring last season. He finally got the call in late July to come back to the big league club.

After he got the call back up, it seemed like he had figured something out at the plate. In 58 games in 2019, Happ batted .264 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs. Happ also had an OBP of .333 and SLG of .564 and a .898 OPS. Overall some good numbers for half a season.

Almora struggled in 2019. To start the year, he was asked to be the leadoff man, and any Cubs fan knows anyone who was asked to leadoff struggled in that spot. Almora struggled so severely that he was sent down to Triple-A for a few weeks to get some more work in. His numbers were not pleasant; he batted .236 with 12 homers and 32 RBIs in 130 games.

Coming into 2020, I think most people thought the starting center fielder’s job would be Happs and Almora, who be used more in a defensive replacement role. But so far during the spring, both Happ and Almora have been red hot.

So far this spring in 18 plate appearances, Happ has nine hits, two homers, and walked once. An excellent start to the spring when you are fighting for a starting job. Then Almora has been just as good to start. In 18 plate appearances, Almora has eight hits, two homers, and two walks.

Coming into the spring, I think everyone thought that the job would be Happs because of the down year Almora had last season. They are both making a case to be the starter on Opening Day. Now I know it is just spring, and many people think that these games and plate appearances don’t matter, but when guys are fighting for jobs, they do. Just look at last season Happ was sent down to Triple-A because of his bad spring.

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New manager David Ross will have a tough decision come Opening Day when he has to choose Happ or Almora to be his starting center fielder. The job will be decided through the rest of the spring. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.