Albert Almora Jr. Rated Second-Worst Defensive Center Fielder in MLB

Albert Almora Jr. is known as a defense-first type of player whose excellent glove is supposed to gloss over some of his flaws at the plate. Even a Gold Glove wouldn’t have glittered enough to blind people to Almora’s 64 wRC+, and the SABR Defensive Index tells us his reputation served as little more than thinly and hastily applied gilding in 2019.

Among positional qualifiers, Almora ranks second-worst in center field defensive value, ahead of only the Rockies’ Ian Desmond.

Player Team SDI
Victor Robles WSN 11.1
Lorenzo Cain MIL 10.2
Harrison Bader STL 9.3
Manuel Margot SDP 4.1
Ronald Acuna Jr. ATL 3.4
Alex Verdugo LAD 2.3
Jarrod Dyson ARI 1.6
Scott Kingery PHI 0
Ketel Marte ARI -1.1
Nick Senzel CIN -2.6
Starling Marte PIT -3.4
Kevin Pillar SFG -4.9
Albert Almora CHC -5.8
Ian Desmond COL -14.7

Almora’s poor SABR DI numbers match other defensive metrics including his -4.1 UZR/150 and -5 DRS, both of which were far below average. It’s hard to imagine the Cubs giving another 360 plate appearances to a man who produced -0.7 fWAR over the course of the season and at one point was the worst offensive performer in MLB over a calendar year. It’s also hard to imagine any other team in contention willing to play Almora in a semi-frequent role.

Almora may not even be a late-inning defensive replacement either, a role in which Joe Maddon used him at points over the last few seasons. When three defensive metrics report similarly bad value, you know Almora’s defense is probably a tad overrated. If that’s truly the case, he’d better figure out how to improve his offensive game in a hurry.

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