In a bit of a surprising move at the end of Spring Training, the Chicago Cubs Ian Happ was sent down to Triple-A Iowa to work on his contact issues. Should the Cubs reconsider and bring him back up?
Ian Happ has primarily been an outfield for the Chicago Cubs. Kyle Schwarber is playing left, and he was a 3 WAR player last season. Jason Heyward is having a breakout season as a Cub this year, Kris Bryant is spending time in the outfield this year, and Albert Almora is manning center field.
Quite frankly, it’s time for Happ to trade places with Almora. Let’s look at career major league stats first.
- Happ: 109 wRC+, .242/.341/.459, with 39 HRs, with a 3.3 total WAR.
- Almora: 93 wRC+, .286/.325/.405, 17 HRs, 3.0 total WAR. This is Almora’s third full season in the majors, while Happ has spent nearly two full years in the majors.
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Happ’s production is miles ahead of Almora’s, and it’s not really close. Happ does strike out almost one-third of the time, but when he hits it, he’s able to put it in play. Happ also walks at a 12.5 percent clip, compared to Almora’s measly 5.4 percent.
For fun’s sake, the defensive metrics, even though these can be very flawed. Happ is at -6 DRS, while Almora is at 12 DRS.
Happ has the potential to be an everyday Major League player for many years, while it seems like Almora’s ceiling is more of a fourth, defensive first outfielder.
This article may be coming with bad timing, of course, because Almora has gotten hits in five of his last six at-bats, including his first two extra-base hits. One of those included a home run off Kenley Jansen! This stretch has raised his wRC+ to 62. That’s still not good, but compared to the beginning of the week when it was at just 9 — an almost unheard of total for a position player.
Happ hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at Iowa, hitting just .218/.315/.385 with two home runs. He has a 73 wRC+, which is still more than Almora’s at the Major League level.
Happ has all the potential in the world, and he’s not going to reach it by withering away at Iowa. Call him up, and let Happ be who he is. He is still a productive enough Major League player, and he has a positive DRS when playing the corner outfield spots.