Chicago Cubs: The real team MVP is not who you think

(Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have plenty of star talent on their roster to bring home wins on a regular basis. However, one particular player stands out among the rest in 2018.

Where would the Chicago Cubs be this season without notable names such as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jon Lester? Probably not in first place contention for the NL Central Division title as we speak.

The Cubs have many contributors on their roster. On any given day, a new hero may emerge to will his team to victory. In one instance, it might be Lester’s turn, pitching a gem on the mound to bail out an offense that’s struggling to score runs.

On the other hand, when the Cubs’ bats get hot, it’s truly a sight to behold. Up-and-down the lineup, players like Rizzo, Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Jason Heyward have all shown up in big moments this season. They can all strike fear in the eyes of opposing pitchers, especially when the wind is howling out at Wrigley Field.

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While those players receive most of the notoriety from media and fans everywhere, another player who often goes unnoticed is proving to be pivotal to the Cubs’ success in 2018. Right now, Albert Almora Jr. is making a compelling case to being the “Most Valuable Player” on the Cubs.

Known initially for his stellar defense in the outfield, Almora has quietly evolved into the most reliable hitter in the Cubs’ lineup this season. Heading into Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Almora’s .324 batting average ranked second-highest in the National League. Following the game, he took control of first place.

Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon has finally found a reliable leadoff hitter to lean on in Almora. He’s batting .343 in 32 games played when hitting first in the lineup. He has helped spark the Cubs’ offense early and often by frequently getting on base.

Given Almora’s success all season long, it’s now become nearly impossible for Maddon to justify keeping him on the bench during games. He rarely strikes out and always makes heads up plays in the outfield to prevent runs from scoring.

Almora is currently having the type of season that All-Star caliber players strive to have. Yet, he’s doing it while mostly falling under the radar — exceeding expectations as we speak.

There’s no telling where the Cubs would sit in their division standings right now without Almora’s stellar play. He’s been the most consistent player on the roster this season, and sometimes, pure consistency is what makes you the most valuable.

His ability to impact the game in so many ways makes his value skyrocket. There hasn’t been a point in the season where Almora has shown signs of struggling offensively. The same can’t be said for any other Cubs hitter.

When Almora is playing well, so do the rest of his teammates. They feed off the positive energy he routinely brings to the table. In fact, in 51 games Almora has started for the Cubs this season, they have won 33 of them — an impressive .647 winning percentage. In other words: Keep starting him, Maddon.

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There’s no telling what the rest of this season holds for Almora Jr. There’s still plenty of baseball left to be played. Whether or not his stellar play continues for the duration of the entire season remains to be seen.

However, until proven otherwise, no one should argue who the MVP of the Cubs has been thus far in 2018. It’s not even a close race. Right now, Almore is proving his worth on the Cubs is far greater than anyone else.