Chicago Cubs: Happ needs to realize his potential
Ian Happ is a bit of an enigma as a baseball player, a Chicago Cub, and a person. A man who has looked the part and has all the makings of an MLB All-Star at times, yet also a guy who was demoted to the Minor Leagues for 99 games in 2019, there is no telling what kind of year Happ might have in 2020. The guy could hit 30 bombs for the big league Cubs, or he could ride around on a bus for Iowa for part of the season.
One of the developmental issues for Happ (and some other Cubs for that matter) might be the fact that the Cubs were so good the past five seasons. They didn’t have time and innings to give to prospects and young players to work through their struggles, see lefties and righties, and learn new positions on the fly in the big leagues.
The Cubs and Joe Maddon didn’t and couldn’t have much patience for lackluster results on the big league level, regardless of talent or potential. Heck, even Schwarber, a guy who has the same 110 career home runs as Aaron Judge and is a full year younger than Judge, spent extended time in Iowa as well.
Happ has always had a proclivity for the strikeout, but he also walks a ton and has a discerning eye at the plate when right. If he can harness that ability to take pitches while limiting what he swings at, you could see the guy who finished the 2019 campaign on a bigger tear than Schwarber or Castellanos.
In September, Happ slashed a robust .311/.348/.672 while hitting six home runs and knocking in 17. If that doesn’t give fans some kind of optimism given the way the season ended, I don’t know will. One thing for certain- no disrespect to Albert Almora, but the Cubs need Happ to step into an everyday role and gain some consistency finally.