Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ had a brutal month of April and for the most part, is still struggling through the month of May. But, he’s showing more signs of contact of late and that has to be a good sign, right?
Chicago Cubs‘ Ian Happ had a much-needed good week mashing against the lowly Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox, but when you’re struggling like he has been, confidence is something that is needed to get back on track.
Last week, Happ batted 5-for-22 at the plate, which included a two home run, five runs driven in game against the Marlins. Considering what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, it’s a start to possibly getting out of his season-long slump.
Starting to see the ball better
Per Fangraphs, from the start of the season through the month of April, Happ had a walk rate of 6.8 percent but in the month of May it’s at 10.3 percent. Now, given the small sample size, it’s not saying much, but shows that he’s seeing the ball better to at least get on base more.
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Seeing the ball better should lead to more contact, but unfortunately, Happ’s strikeout rate is still an atrocious 43.6 percent in the month of May. All of these factors point to why he didn’t work out in the leadoff role, something many fans and writers think is a huge hole for the Cubs right now.
Though, Happ still posts a .749 OPS in May, which is slightly above Major League Baseball’s season average, which is .726 according to baseball-reference.
One nice thing to see is Happ’s hard contact rate (47.1 percent) is significantly higher than his soft contact rate (17.7 percent).
To put things into perspective, Happ’s soft contact rate in April was 30.6 percent and hard contact rate was 36.1 percent.
It’s only a matter of time until Happ figures things out at the plate. However, it does seem a bit shocking that he hasn’t been sent to Triple-A Iowa for a stint to get his confidence back up like the Cubs did with Kyle Schwarber last season, especially since he doesn’t receive consistent at-bats like Schwarber did last season. Though, of late, he has seen more at-bats.
Maybe he’s seeing the ball better and hitting the ball harder because Jason Heyward has been out the last few weeks? With Heyward out, all the outfielders have got more consistent at-bats.
It’s still early and Joe Maddon will continue to play around with the lineups and play the matchups depending on the opposing starting pitcher, but maybe we’re starting to see Happ trend upward. It’s a small sample size, but worth noting.