Now that we’ve dispensed with the oh-noes-they-lost-again, we can just enjoy something great from last night’s game.
A day after wrecking the ball in Las Vegas and showing the power upside in his bat, center fielder Albert Almora Jr. was ready to come back to Arizona and remind folks where his bread is butter.
Off the bat, that ball easily looks ticketed for the gap. It was high enough, though, to allow Almora time to get under it given his quick, perfect read, and nearly straight line route to where the ball would wind up (watch the difference in Almora’s approach and Ian Happ’s – to be fair, Happ rounds off at the end because he knows it’s Almora’s ball, but even before peeling away, you can see his route is more circuitous). Almora simply has a preternatural ability to track the ball and get to the spot where it’s going to be extremely quickly, even without elite speed.
And, then, of course, he’s got a fantastic ability to glove the ball, no matter the obstacles around him.
Anyone else where he was going to wrench his knee on that fence? Or that he’d more seriously hurt his arm when he came down? Thankfully, it didn’t appear to be any kind of issue beyond a scrape, but, like so many Almora catches, it was a reminder: he’s probably gonna get hurt at some point. Maybe not seriously, and maybe not this year, but Almora is too good and too aggressive for it not to happen. He wants that ball, no matter what, and he can get to it.
It’s a bit like Jason Heyward’s diving catch in San Francisco last year, when he crashed into the wall. How many players in baseball can even get to that ball, let alone would have the aggressiveness to go after it when they got there? Almost none. But you don’t want to take that away from a guy in the moment, and I’m not going to sit here and say he has to change. You want a guy who’s rangy and aggressive out there. Sure, be as safe as possible at the margins – don’t crash into the wall at Wrigley Field guys! – but you also just gotta be you.
And, like Jason Heyward, Albert Almora is so freaking good out there. Here’s hoping we get to see a whole lot of it this season.