Chicago Cubs: Albert Almora must perform when he gets the chance

Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora has struggled of late and whenever baseball resumes he has to start making the most of his opportunities.

Albert Almora struggled last year after having a solid 2018 season. Without question, the Chicago Cubs outfielder had the worst season of his young major league career. On top of the struggles on the field, he had to deal with the incident that happend in Houston where he struck a young fan with a foul ball. Almora even admitted that he was not in a good place mentally after that happened.

He played 130 games, batting .236/.271/.381 with a 64 wRC+, all career lows. Almora’s defense was talked about as being one of the best in the game even took a big step back in 2019. He accounted for -5 defensive runs saved in center field. Witch sent him down to the minors for a few weeks so he could work on some things.

All this came after Almora seemed like he had started to put something together in 2018. He batted .286/.323/.378 in 152 games. He also was really good against left-handed pitching in that year, hitting .295/.340/.402 in 70 games..

Almora took a step in the wrong direction against southpaws in 2019 after being very good against them in the previous years of his career. Last season, he batted .213/.254/.278 against left-handed pitching. One of the biggest tellers with Almora’s down season was his ground ball rate. In the age of launch angle and everyone wants to get the ball in the air, his ground ball rate was 53.1 percent.

That number is way too high especially with all the shifts that happen in baseball today. His soft contact rate was way up to 23.9 percent. That’s not a good combination when the ball his being hit softly and on the ground.

Heading into 2020 Almora was in a position battle with Ian Happ for the starting center field job. That position, of course,  was a low spot for the Cubs. It seemed like everyone that was put there struggled, along with second base. The Cubs center fielders batted .232/.305/.388, which was second-worst of any position on the team.

Almora decided to make some changes to his swing heading into 2020. His stance was less open and had less of his leg kick that we were used to seeing. For the little amount of time it was looking like it was working as in spring training, Almora was batting 381/.435/.714 with two home runs in eight games.

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Now I know it was just spring training and was only eight games but it seemed like the changes were starting to work for Almora. He will have to perform in the chances that he gets in 2020. Because as it was looking Happ was going to be the everyday guy. If Almora can get back to his old ways of playing above-average defense and hitting lefties good then he will be able to be in the lineup more often. If he continues to struggle then he will see his playing time go down even more than it has in the past.

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