I Do Like the *PHILOSOPHY* Behind Albert Almora's Swing Changes

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I Do Like the *PHILOSOPHY* Behind Albert Almora’s Swing Changes

Chicago Cubs

For the most part – the extreme most part – at this time of the year, you watch the stuff that happens in Spring Training and you just enjoy it because it’s nice to see fun baseball stuff. Taking it any further than that risks deep emotional regret in April and May.

To that end, Albert Almora ripped three balls yesterday, including his first homer of the Spring, and it was very fun to see, because he probably hasn’t done that in a game since 2018.

Almora, 25, is already a significant storyline this Spring after a year and a half of being among the worst five or so hitters in all of baseball. He has all but lost a real chance at being the everyday center fielder when the season opens, and an offseason of reflection, resetting, and swing changes offer us the opportunity to talk about how he could eventually win that job back. It’s a natural fan thing.

It’s going to be all kinds of attractive to buy into his offseason changes – a real reset and then mechanical adjustments – but I’ll probably stay mostly temperate throughout Spring Training. Love to see hard contact, but it’s going to be a different animal when big leaguers are working in different environments with their full complement of pitches.

That said, I do like the specific changes he made, as Jordan Bastian confirmed with Almora: more upright in his setup, stance not as open, leg kick noticeably reduced, less rotational as he gathers into a firing position.

The stated reasons for the changes are to simplify the swing for Almora, to buy more time for him to be see-ball-hit-ball. Fine. Good stuff. Appropriate for a high-contact guy with good line-drive ability.

But that’s not quite why I like the changes for Almora. I like that all the changes seem geared toward allowing him to stay back and drive pitches to all fields. Yes, you’d love a guy like Almora to tap into his power potential to the pull-side, but if that is coming at the expense of his approach – and I believe it has been, given his extreme pull-side grounder tendencies and pitchers moving away away away – then it’s not worth it.

You’d be better served effectively forcing him, through swing changes, to stick with a line-drive, all-fields, spray approach. Then, even if the discipline doesn’t magically change in his mid-20s at the big league level (it almost never does), he’ll have a CHANCE at being a .330+ BABIP guy who can hit .300 with his contact skills. Then he’d have a serviceable OBP and SLG, and he’d overall probably be an average hitter. And that’s a useful player (and is also a different type of banana for this lineup).

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It sounds like Almora may have, in the past, been a little resistant to forced changes – whether mechanical or mental or whatever – but he’s all on board after what has happened to his performance (Cubs.com): “There’s people that have always been there. It’s just me listening and actually opening up to new advice that really I opened up to this year …. It was an important year in my life that I needed to go through and experience …. It was too hard to change something during the season. During the year, you have a mindset, and it’s tough. But in the offseason, I was trying to slow everything down and I bought into what both of those guys were saying.”

Interestingly, the referenced “both” of those guys are a swing guru in Miami and a hitting coach in the Braves’ system. You can read more about that at the Cubs.com piece.

Ultimately, as I said, I don’t know that we’re going to know a lot about Almora until things really get going into the season – and so much is going to depend on how Ian Happ performs, as he’s earned a serious near-everyday look in center field. But I do like the philosophy of what’s happening with Almora. That’s a start.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.