One of the biggest arguments Chicago Cubs fans get into is whether or not Albert Almora Jr. should get more playing time against right-handed pitching. We all know he kills lefties and with the struggles of Jason Heyward and Ian Happ this season, the fan base has been pretty split on how many starts Almora should get.
Well, all those Twitter debates haven’t gone unnoticed by the Cubs outfielder, who said he felt the discussion about his numbers against righties has been funny to him.
Almora was on 670 The Score Tuesday afternoon and was asked about his success during Monday’s game against the Braves, hitting a home run and keeping the ninth-inning rally going with a single against right-handed pitchers.
Did that mean more, showing he can hit righties?
Via 670 The Score.
“All these conversations, honestly, about the right-handed pitching it’s starting to, not get to me, but it’s comical already because I’ve never thought to myself that I struggle against right-handed pitching. Somehow that came up.
If you look at all my numbers I’ve never had, what you’d say a struggle [against right-handed pitching]. To me it’s just another pitcher. I don’t care who I’m facing.”
-Albert Almora Jr.
(Audio: McNeil & Parkins Show) pic.twitter.com/C89IGieUsd
— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) May 15, 2018
Almora has pretty much taken over most of the playing time in center field and after his three-hit performance on Monday he’s currently hitting .298, with a .778 OPS in 33 games this season.
Really solid numbers, but let’s not kid ourselves. There is a reason Joe Maddon was hesitant to give Almora all the at-bats versus righties and even now still picks his spots to start Almora against certain pitchers. Almora’s numbers are good, but most of the damage has come against left-handed pitching.
So far this season Almora has put up a .279 batting average against righties, but his OPS decreases by nearly 300 points against right-handers compared to lefties. About 1/3 of his at-bats have come against left-handers in 2018, and Almora has a .956 OPS against them. Against the righties? The OPS goes all the way down to .682.
We all know how frustrating Jason Heyward has been with the Cubs and the majority of the fan base wishes he’d never appear in the lineup. Well, his career OPS with the Cubs is at .667. So far this season, Almora is hitting righties essentially as good as Heyward has performed with the Cubs on offense, yet one side absolutely loves Almora and hates Heyward.
By the way, it’s not just this year. In his career Almora has a .715 OPS against right-handed pitching.
So you know, it’s good that Almora feels confident when he’s in the batter’s box and doesn’t care who is pitching, but he can’t be this naive as to why fans argue when he should and shouldn’t be playing. The difference is pretty clear. When he’s in there against righties, it hurts the Cubs offense more than it helps.
But hey, I hope he does prove the fans who think he shouldn’t be in there as much against righties. That includes me as well.
Cookie monster. pic.twitter.com/9B7jg6ApBl
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 14, 2018
More of that will certainly help Almora’s case.