We have to talk about Albert Almora Jr.‘s offense, or lack thereof. While he routinely makes highlight-reel plays in center, the outfielder’s bat has completely cancelled out his glove. As of Monday morning, Almora’s 58 wRC+ is tied with Billy Hamilton and Chris Davis for worst in MLB over the past calendar year (min. 400 PAs).
The numbers look a little better if you run them from July 22, 2018 to July 21, 2019, since Almora jumps up to a 59 wRC+ to sit one point ahead of the those other two players.
Almora’s offensive woes have been highlighted by a hyper-aggressive 41% outside the zone swing rate, which is in the top 5% of MLB hitters. That’s pretty brutal for a guy who doesn’t hit for power (10 homers in sample). Others hitters with similar aggressive approaches, such as Javy Báez, still produce because of slugging.
As fun as it is to watch him patrol center, and even considering the “Defense wins championships” axiom, Almora’s -0.6 fWAR over the last year has actually been worse than replacement level. If Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber spent time Triple-A to straighten their approaches out, shouldn’t the same logic eventually be applied to Almora.
At the very least, he is not a hitter who should be penciled in atop the order, even on a temporary basis. It just doesn’t make sense that a contending team would put one of its least valuable bats with an exceeding low OBP at leadoff down the stretch.
I understand that we’re just fans and don’t know the intricacies of Almora’s everyday work with coaches. And there are times when he hits tough pitching or shows glimpses of power. Every time I see those, I think: Okay, maybe Almora is turning the corner here.
But I’m expecting the Cubs will make deadline moves to solidify the offense, thereby displacing at least some of Almora’s playing time. Whatever they end up doing, there’s no way we see him leading off any games after July 31. Right?