The Cubs had a fantastic game going yesterday in Las Vegas against the Reds, when first base prospect Yasiel Balaguert doubled with the bases loaded in the 8th inning. The problem? The Cubs were already at 20 runs, and if you hit a double with the bases load on 20, you’re guaranteed to bust. Sure enough, two runs scored, the Cubs hit 22, and the dealer collected the chips.
… my apologies for the Las-Vegas-blackjack-I’m-so-clever metaphor. But, I mean, how often does a team scored 22 runs in Las Vegas? Had to take my shot.
More than half of those 22 runs came courtesy of five Cubs homers on the day – a monster leadoff shot by Anthony Rizzo, two by Albert Almora Jr., a grand slam by Bijan Rademacher, and a capper by Charcer Burks.
Watch them all fly boom-boom-boom-boom-boom in short order:
I especially love seeing those Almora dingers. To be quite sure, the ball was clearly flying there in Vegas, as it always does, but – from a physical standpoint – we know that Almora can have plenty of power. He’s been such a high-contact guy for so long that working with him on focusing on drivable pitches to untap that power (and, incidentally, increase the walk rate) has been something we’ve talked about for years. He showed the highest ISO of his career in the big leagues last year (.179, albeit in just 117 PAs), so hopefully this is starting to take hold.
Consider this: if Almora is a .290 hitter (most believe he can be), then that .179 ISO would give him a .469 SLG. Even if the walk rate never goes much above the 4.5% he saw last year, then he’d still be looking at about a .290/.320/.469 line, far better than league average (.255/.322/.417 in 2016). That bat, with that glove in center field? Hello extremely valuable player.