Chicago Cubs: Projecting the 2021 Opening Day lineup

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Ian Happ / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Look for another strong start from the leadoff man

When healthy and right, Ian Happ is one of the best young players in the game. He can run, he can hit from both sides of the plate, he can hit with power and he’s versatile. He may not have a permanent home defensively, but he will probably remain the Cubs’ primary center fielder for most of 2021.

He’s also just coming into his own on and off the field and blossoming as a leader on a team where he was the young guy on a club with a core group of players just a few years older than him.

Happ got the nod of confidence from Ross in 2020 to lead off and basically ran with it until a freak foul ball to the eye derailed his breakout year. He’s already got his manager’s approval as the guy at the top in 2021, with Ross declaring “Happer” the man to start things off for the Cubs on Opening Day. And really, why wouldn’t he?

Overall, Happ produced a .258/.361/.505 slash line to go along with 12 home runs, 11 doubles, 30 walks and 28 RBI, as well as a down-ballot MVP vote. What that doesn’t take into account, however, is that up until that foul ball on September 3, Happ was slashing .311/.421/.648 with 10 bombs. Oh, and he was most definitely right in the mix for NL MVP at that point. After that point, the Cubs offense basically went downhill fast without a catalyst to start things at the top, and they never really recovered.

Here’s hoping a healthy Happ can set the table and keep the offense happy and happening all season long in 2021. Read on to see who’s going to hit behind him.