The Chicago Cubs have been without a true leadoff hitter since the departure of Dexter Fowler. Now, they’ve got Ian Happ.
Since then they have experimented with Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist and even Anthony Rizzo. While those didn’t work out, the Cubs believe they have finally found the right man for the job in outfielder Ian Happ.
The Chicago Cubs‘ search for their leadoff hitter has come to a close. Cubs manager Joe Maddon announced Sunday that outfielder Ian Happ would be the teams table-setter come Opening Day when the Cubs take on the Miami Marlins.
Almora’s to lose–and he did
Going into spring training, it appeared Happ and Albert Almora were going to battle it out for a shot to bat leadoff for the Cubs. Jason Heyward and Zobrist were also in consideration to bat atop the lineup. But in the end, it wasn’t much of a competition as Happ blew everyone out of the water.
Almora struggled this spring, batting .176 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Happ showed he was comfortable and poised hitting in the leadoff spot, posting a .333 batting average to go along with a team-leading seven home runs in the spring. Five of his seven home runs also came to lead off a game.
Happ was called up in May last season and made the most of his rookie season. In 115 games he hit .253 while belting 24 home runs while rotating between second base and the outfield.
As far as his play in the field goes, it appears Happ will get most of his time in the outfield, where he is adjusting nicely. This spring he’s shown he’s capable of playing in center field, making a couple of highlight-reel diving catches.
Happ certainly brings a different dynamic to this already dangerous Cubs lineup from the leadoff spot. As someone who can potentially crank out 30-plus home runs, opposing pitchers will need to be wary of Happ if they don’t want to start the game in a one-run hole.