When the Chicago Cubs demoted Ian Happ to Iowa at the start of the season, it was a move that surprised a lot of people. But after three months in the minors, it looks like Happ is exactly where he is supposed to be.
This cannot be how the Chicago Cubs envisioned Ian Happ would perform when they demoted him to Iowa at the start of the season. Happ was sent down to work on his swing by increasing his contact rate and cut down on his strikeouts. That has not happened.
Currently, Happ is hitting just a dismal .217 at the plate, which is the fourth-lowest batting average in the Pacific Coast League. That’s the worst batting average on the Iowa Cubs, among qualifiers, and Happ’s lowest batting average as a member of the Cubs at any level.
Happ also continues to swing and miss at way too high of a clip. He’s already struck out 95 times this season which ties him for the fifth most in the PCL. The sad thing is he’s actually lowered his strikeout rate from 36.1 percent down to 27.7 percent. But he’s still striking out way too much against mediocre pitching.
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It’s been even worse for Happ of late as June was his worst month by far. He posted a slash line of .188/.316/.313 and had an OPS of .628. He nearly had twice as many strikeouts (35) as he did hits (18) while hitting just three home runs. His last round-tripper came back on June 10th.
It’s not like Happ is facing top of the line starting pitching on a daily basis. This is middle of the road pitching at best, and he should be thriving against them. He should be taking strides towards getting back to the big leagues, not taking steps back.
Sure, he takes his walks. Happ leads Iowa with 48 free passes this season and walks in 14 percent of his plate appearances. He’s tallied 11 home runs and drove in 41 RBIs, but that’s not saying much. You’d think a guy who hit 39 home runs in his first two seasons in the big leagues would be dominating minor league pitching.
The numbers speak for themselves and Happ is nowhere near returning the big leagues. That’s why time and time again the Cubs have passed him over when they needed to make a move. They started the season with Mark Zagunis, they called up Jim Adduci, and they signed Carlos Gonzalez, who has already made his way back to waivers.
Happ’s numbers also certainly haven’t helped his trade value at all. Once viewed as a top prospect, Happ wouldn’t even be considered as a centerpiece to bring pack a piece like Whit Merrifield or an impact bullpen arm to help the Cubs.
When Happ started the season in the minors, I’m sure the Cubs thought he would show improvements and they would call him back up soon. That hasn’t been the case, and it doesn’t look like that’ll happen anytime soon. For the time being Happ should remain at Iowa and continue working on his game. Maybe by the time, September rolls around when the rosters expand Happ will be able to contribute.