I’ve said it before – and we definitely got plenty of glimpses of it last year – but we are in for such a treat this year watching Albert Almora Jr. roam the outfield for the Chicago Cubs. The way he plays defense is like the way Kris Bryant hits bombs, or like the way Billy Hamilton runs the bases, or like the way Jason Heyward … well, also plays defense. (Man alive, having those two next to each other for large chunks of this season? Goodbye right center field gap. You don’t exist anymore.)
Last night, in his first start of the season, Almora treated us to another defensive visual feast, when he robbed Matt Adams of at least extra bases, and very possibly a homer:
Was it a “home run robbery” for sure? Eh, it kinda looks like that ball was going to hit the top or top corner of the wall. But hey, man, I’m no physicist. It was a great catch regardless, and it was a really special one, too.
Almora said after the game that he wanted to hit a home run for his mother’s birthday, and, although that didn’t happen, he robbed one instead (Cubs.com). He added that his moment of the night came after he made the catch when Jake Arrieta gave him a hug. That puts a smile on the face.
As the Statcast video of the catch notes, Adams really crushed that ball, and that kind of contact off of the bat had an 83% hit probability. And yet … did it even look that difficult for Almora?
More than that, balls struck like that are a home run 92% of the time! (And, yes, I am also mentally trying to square how the ball had a 17% chance of becoming an out, but only an 8% chance of not being a home run … these metrics are new this year.)
— #Statcast (@statcast) April 5, 2017
The last time the Cubs had a catch like that in center field? It was 2013 by Ryan Sweeney, and the victim? Yup, once again it was Matt Adams:
Just stop hitting it there against the Cubs, dude.
— MLB (@MLB) April 5, 2017
— Randall J. Sanders (@RandallJSanders) April 5, 2017
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 5, 2017