Chicago Cubs: Is Ian Happ a leadoff man?

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

 Ian Happ seems to have left his hitting and contact skills in Mesa. Like the Chicago weather, he is frozen at the plate.

Did he win the job in Spring Training? Absolutely. Ian Happ had an incredible Cactus League slate. He hit. 333 (13 -for-48) with seven home runs and twelve RBI. With numbers like that, he was the clearcut winner of Chicago Cubs‘ leadoff man.

But his success hasn’t carried over. It’s an adage If a player you like struggles in spring training you say “Oh it’s just spring training.” On the flipside, If a friend rants to you that a player you hate has a good spring you say “Oh it’s just spring training.”

Early on at least it feels like Happ’s Catus League success was a fluke. Despite, leading off the 2018 season with a homer against the Marlins. He’s hitting a dismal .204 (13-for-54), and 25 of 41 outs have come via of the strikeout.

Is Happ still an option in the leadoff spot?

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The job of a leadoff hitter has changed quite a bit over the past decade. It used to be the primary job of the leadoff man was to get on base with a single, and then two pitches later be on third after stealing second on the first pitch and then taking third on the second pitch.

That was yesterday. Today even though there are players like Billy Hamilton who do follow the “Old school” kind of leadoff hitter, sadly Happ doesn’t fit the mold of a hitter or a speedster.

Happ is a power bat who looks to drive the ball gap to gap and drive the ball out of the ballpark.

With all this being said, to me, Happ is a good baseball player and has his spot on the team, but I don’t think it’s in the leadoff spot.

Who should be the Cubs’ leadoff hitter?

So Happ isn’t meant to be the Cubs’ leadoff hitter. Who should be?

For me, it comes down to two people. Ben Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr.

Almora Jr. has already gotten a right amount of starts atop the Cubs’ lineup card, the majority of those starts have come against left-handed starters. He makes excellent contact every time, and play Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.

As for Zobrist, he is a great contact guy, and he’ll work the count every time which is one of the critical jobs of the leadoff man, especially early on in the ballgame. A couple of things that Zobrist has going for him is that he is a switch hitter and he can play anywhere in the field.

Next: Lots of walks, strikeouts for Chatwood

Final Thought

It pains me to admit that I was one of the biggest supporters of Happ being in the leadoff spot but after the first group of games. I think Happ just isn’t the right player to be on the top of the lineup card. He does have his place in the lineup, but it just isn’t at the top.