Albert Almora Describes His Time Developing in the Cubs Organization as "Muddy Waters"

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Albert Almora Describes His Time Developing in the Cubs Organization as “Muddy Waters”

Chicago Cubs

He’ll always have the most important tag-up in Chicago Cubs history. Do I mention that at the start of this post or at the end? I guess I’ll leave it here at the start, since everything that follows is more of a bummer.

Albert Almora Jr. was, overall, unsuccessful in his time with the Chicago Cubs. The bat never evolved from a guy who could make contact with anything to a guy who selectively makes contact with pitches he can drive. The glove took some steps back. There were literal year-long stretches where he was one of the worst few bats in baseball. For a former number six overall pick – the first of the Theo-Jed tenure – it was all very disappointing.

Where the blame lies is an interesting, if frustrating, question. Maybe Almora never was the guy the Cubs hoped he could be, and a lot of blame simply lies in the scouting. Maybe Almora, himself, simply never developed into the offensive player he could have been. Or maybe the Cubs did a crummy job of helping him develop. Usually in these situations, it’s a lot of things at once.

But for Almora’s part, now that he’s with the Reds, he’s suggesting the issue was always with the Cubs.

Back in Chicago this week as the Reds face the Cubs, Almora is getting some understandable attention. And I really do praise his hard work for getting back to the big leagues after it looked like he might be all done.

Whether you could say Almora has “bounced back” is, I think, debatable, but bigger picture, it’s nice to see him sticking around in the big leagues for now at age 28, after more or less being set aside as a regular three years ago.

That said, Almora may not have a lot of affection for the younger days in his career.

On 670 The Score, we can hear Almora talking about his time with the Cubs, saying that there were “muddy waters” in his development, because the Cubs wanted him to hit the ball in the air more, but he didn’t feel like it was explained to him in the right way. There were a lot of voices in the organization over those years, and I’m sure there is some truth to the fact that it was too many cooks for him.

He felt like he was caught in the middle of wanting to stay the same player he’d always been, but also wanting to do as he’s told. Maybe so, but it’s worth noting that the type of player Almora always was – tons of contact, but crummy contact quality – wouldn’t be successful in the big leagues either.

And then Almora says he didn’t get enough opportunities to play, which – I’m sorry – is just a ridiculous complaint from a guy who appeared in 414 games from 2017-19 even as the performance kept getting worse and worse.

With the Reds, Almora is certainly back to being the guy he could always be, hitting .266/.280/.432/90 wRC+ with a 17.4% K rate and a 2.1% BB rate. His expected numbers are considerably worse because the contact quality is terrible (50.0% groundballs, 23.3% hard hit, 2.6% barrel, 84.8 mph exit velo – just truly awful numbers), so you would project significant regression from here if there isn’t a change.

But if he’s happier now, then I have no reason to dump on the guy. I just take issue with the idea that things would’ve been fine if the Cubs had just let him be himself and start everyday for even longer than he already did. That was never going to work.

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.