Cubs News: Ian Happ has no plans of changing his approach at the plate

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Ian Happ looks like a key piece of this team’s future. With a mass exodus of key players looming at year’s end, the Chicago Cubs are already thinking about what the next core will look like. Under team control through 2024, the switch-hitting outfielder has a lot to offer – even though the numbers aren’t exactly on his side right now.

In Thursday’s walk-off win over the Mets that completed a three-game sweep, Happ went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, dropping his line on the year to a paltry .155/.319/.526. Manager David Ross has stuck with him in the leadoff spot, though – despite the early struggles.

"“Do I feel like he’s locked in like the version we saw last year?” Ross said. “Not quite yet, but I think the great thing about Ian, even when he’s in between or not quite comfortable, he’s still taking his walks. He still hits the ball real hard the other way, but I think Ian is still working on being even a better version of himself than he is right now.”"

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Even with Happ’s struggles, Chicago is heating up offensively. During the three-game set with New York, the Cubs’ bats outscored their counterparts by a 23-to-8 margin. The sweep got the Cubs back to .500 heading into a critical weekend series against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers – a team that’s gotten stellar pitching so far this year.

Cubs, Happ trust in his approach right now

So if Happ isn’t getting the results he’s looking for, why won’t you be seeing any major adjustments from the former first-rounder? Because if you look past his baseball card numbers, there’s a lot of positives to take away from his work at the plate so far in 2021. 

He ranks in the top 13 percent of the league in hard hit rate and the top quarter of all players in average exit velocity. Happ rarely chases out of the zone and has continued to demonstrate a strong plate discipline – evidenced by the highest walk rate of his career.

A .222 BABIP suggests he’s bound for a rebound here soon because he’s been really unlucky. His 50 percent hard-hit rate is also a personal high. It’s not like he’s turning in poor at-bats. The results just haven’t been there yet.

"“(The front office and coaching staff) understand the expected stuff and that when the metrics look good when everything is synced up that you’re not always going to get those results,” Happ said. “I think they’ve done a really good job of communicating that all the way down.”"

Next. Pederson hits the IL as Hoerner rejoins team. dark

It’s still early in the season – very early, in fact. All the metrics say the results will come for Happ. For now, we just need to be patient and let the process work.