Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ has turned the corner offensively

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Remember when everyone – and I mean everyone – clamored for the Chicago Cubs to demote Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa? Not so much anymore.

Fresh off hitting his 10th home run of the season in the Chicago Cubs’ finale against the Minnesota Twins, Ian Happ is in his best stretch of the 2018 campaign.

After a rough April and May, Happ heated up quickly in June. One could argue with various injuries, he saw more playing time, which helped him play through his struggles.

Happ has played in 16 straight games, which dates back to June 15. During that stretch, he’s slashing a healthy .346/.452/.519 with a 164 wRC+. His strikeout rate during that stretch is only 29 percent, too.

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While 29 percent is still high, it’s a sign that he’s made some adjustments at the plate. In the games before that stretch, Happ’s K rate was an abysmal 39.7 percent. His strikeout rate for the season is still at 37 percent – but we’re trending up.

Overall, he’s boosted his batting average up to .257 for the season. He’s got at least a hit in all but one game since Kris Bryant went down with a shoulder injury June 26. Small sample size, but he’s showing that with playing time he can produce.

Versatility and a ton of potential

He may never be a Gold Glove-caliber position player. However, he’s given Joe Maddon his best effort all over the field. He’s shown an intense versatility. Keep in mind he plays both corner infield spots and all three outfield positions.

The question remains, though. Where does he play when Bryant returns from the DL? He’s likely to go back to more of a role in the outfield and with all four outfielders playing well offensively, Maddon will have his hands tied trying to give playing time to everyone.

Albert Almora is slashing .331/.368/.459. Since returning from the DL on May 18, Jason Heyward has an OPS of .855. Kyle Schwarber leads the Cubs in home runs (16) and owns a 127 wRC+.

At the very least, Happ is boosting his trade value. If the Cubs were to deal him, could he be a centerpiece? Let’s say a move for Jacob DeGrom, perhaps?

That’s not to say the Cubs are in the process of considering a move. Still, Happ’s value could be that high, despite his early season struggles. He demonstrated tremendous potential as a ball player since joining the team last season.

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The facts remain. He is a young controllable player who has shown he can hit for power, but also walk at a high rate (15.9 percent in 2018) while having the ability to play multiple positions.

Like young controllable starting pitching, teams would love a position player of this type to contribute to their squad.