Coming into this season, there was a fair chance that Albert Almora Jr. was going to establish himself as the everyday center fielder for the Cubs.
For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen. It could still happen next year, as Almora is still just 23 years old, and has barely 400 plate appearances at the big league level. There’s plenty of talent there, and time for it to show.
But if Almora is going to become an everyday starter next year (or in the future beyond that), one thing he’ll have to show is an ability to perform against right-handed pitchers. Although he’s crushed lefties this season to the tune of a .350/.422/.505 (145 wRC+) line, he’s gone just .248/.272/.348 (58) against fellow righties.
Against righties, Almora shows far less plate discipline (3.5% BB rate and 19.3% K rate, as compared to 11.2/12.9 against lefties), hits the ball softly more often, hits the ball hard less often, and puts the ball on the ground much more often. The short version is that it seems like he’s just not seeing the ball nearly as well against righties as lefties. In time, hopefully that comes.
For last night, though, it was nice to see Almora rip a homer off of a righty – just his second homer off a righty all season:
Big Al with a big exclamation point. pic.twitter.com/woVLvDLG7V
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 8, 2017
I don’t think this particular split is meaningful, but it’s interesting nevertheless: even after that homer, Almora’s biggest struggles have come against righties on the road, where he’s posted a 10 wRC+. Yes, that’s 90% worse than league average. It’s only 102 plate appearances, but boy that’s an oddity, isn’t it?
In any case, hooray for the home run last night, Almora’s 6th overall this year, and here’s the hope that he continues to develop against righties in the future.