Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ would welcome the DH to the NL

Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

If MLB decides to roll with the designated hitter in the National League, there’s at least one Chicago Cubs player who would be a massive fan of the move

If baseball does return, there could be a significant change coming to the National League and, therefore, the Chicago Cubs.

Pending MLB negotiations have included a proposal for a universal designated hitter for not only a restarted 2020 season, but also 2021.

Cue the collective cringe from traditionalists who will undoubtedly voice their concerns about changing the fabric of the National League batting order. One person who is a fan of adding a designated hitter to National League batting lineups is the Cubs’ very own Ian Happ.

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He addressed the topic this week on 670 The Score on Dan Bernstein’s show.

"“I think personally for me, I like it for many different reasons. I like it for our team, the way we’re constructed. And I like it for the action in the game. I like it for the fans. How many fans out there want to see (Kyle) Hendricks and (Yu) Darvish and Jon Lester hit? I think that it will be a good testing ground for the next two years to see where we’re at and we’ll have enough games and data under our belt at that point going into the (next) CBA (negotiations) to really understand what the impact has been on the game, how we want to move forward with it."

Shame on Happ for dissing his teammates who sport a super-exciting combined .104 batting average between them during their careers. Later in the interview, he establishes a solid argument without throwing shade.

"“What my argument has been is if you look back, we have guys pitcher-only, not hitting since high school,” Happ said. “And now it’s become so specialized, those guys are now getting to the big leagues and they have absolutely zero chance of putting a ball in play or even bunting a ball in play. And nobody wants to see that. We’re not talking about baseball in the ’40s where guys would be playing multiple positions all the way to the big leagues. It just doesn’t happen anymore. I think it’s time.”"

Naturally, if MLB does implement the designated hitter in the National League, there is one guy on the Chicago Cubs that stands out among the rest in regards to who would fill that role.

Kyle Schwarber has always been an awkward fit in left field. After coming up as a catcher in college and playing over 600 innings behind the plate in two minor league seasons, he kept getting blocked at that position with the Cubs by guys like Miguel Montero and probably more permanently now Willson Contreras.

Schwarber’s fielding has sometimes been an adventure. Per, his Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 innings was -0.9, which was 56th out of 105 guys that played at least 100 innings in left field last season. Let him bat full time and stick somebody like Happ or Steven Souza Jr. out there.

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Nobody else stands out on the Chicago Cubs as a clean fit at designated hitter quite as Schwarber does. Usually, sluggers profile as designated hitters. But you aren’t taking Contreras out from behind the plate or three-time Gold Glover Anthony Rizzo off first to commit to them hitting full time.

Kris Bryant has his moments at third base but certainly isn’t a great fielder by most calculations. But, if he becomes the Cubs designated hitter, who slots over as the full-time third baseman?

All signs point to Kyle Schwarber taking on that role, something that would make a lot of Chicago Cubs fans, and [probably] Ian Happ, very happy.