Cubs hope 2020 was just the beginning of Ian Happ’s breakout

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Ian Happ was one of the few Cubs in 2020 to have a strong offensive season.

The Chicago Cubs as a whole struggled offensively in 2020. The core group had by far their worst group that they have had in the big leagues. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and Willson Contreras all never got going.

Going into 2020, Happ didn’t even know if he was going to be the starting center fielder for the Cubs. Heading into Spring Training last year, Happ and former Cub Albert Almora was heading into a position battle to see who would get the starting spot. They both ended up having really good springs before COVID-19 shut everything down.

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Happ ended up getting the spot on Opening Day and made an impact right away. He ended up homering in that game and that was just the start to his great 2020.

Happ was the Cubs’ most valuable player in 2020 posting a 1.9 WAR. Jason Heyward was second on the list with a 1.8 WAR. If I would have told you before the season that Happ and Heyward were going to be the most valuable two Cubs in 2020 most people probably think the Cubs had a down year.

Yet, they still went out and won the division. That’s something most people didn’t think would happen with Happ and Heyward being the best players on the field.

In 2020, Happ slashed .258/.361/.505 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI. The best season of Happ’s young career. There was even a week during the season where Happ was giving off dark horse NL MVP vibes.

After Bryant went on the IL, David Ross was looking for a leadoff man and Happ was given the opportunity. In 142 plate appearances at the leadoff spot slashed .239/.333/.486 with nine home runs and 18 RBI.

Cubs: Ian Happ will build off his solid 2020 performance

The question surrounding Happ now is ‘Can he build off 2020 heading into 2021?’ There have been talks about how it was only a 60-game season and you can’t judge a guy off of such a short season. While I agree, you can’t completely judge someone off such a small sample size, Happ has been really good for well over a year now.

Since July of 2019, when Happ got called back up to the majors Happ has been a very solid ballplayer. In 338 plate appearances since Happ is slashing .260/.350/.530 with 23 home runs and 58 RBI.

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I fully expect Happ to be just as good if, not better, in 2021. If the rest of the core can bounce back and Happ can continue what he was doing Chicago might be a dangerous team heading into 2021.