Over the weekend, I missed the entire Cubs-Tigers series. My wife and I spent the weekend with friends in Indianapolis and, in a move I’m sure she wasn’t upset about – I forgot my laptop at home.
The self-imposed break was nice, but pretty much immediately upon my return, I logged on and delved into all I’d missed while away. The good? Chicago takes two of three from the Tigers. The bad? It should have been a series sweep. The one thing that really stood out to me from Sunday’s rubber match (outside of Kyle Hendricks looking like his old self) was Ian Happ’s day at the plate.
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Happ returned from the 10-day IL on Saturday and promptly went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. That’s not what you want to see, to be sure, but he bounced back in a big way Sunday, collecting seven total bases and going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Cubs hope Ian Happ’s luck is turning
To this point in the season, the Cubs haven’t gotten the same level of production from Happ we saw last year, when he seized the opportunity to set the table atop the order and never looked back. Even after Sunday’s outburst, he’s still batting just .183/.309/.301 on the year – hardly what you’re looking for from a former first-rounder.
"“It’s just consistency in the work,” Happ said. “We talk a lot about the fact that there was not a lot of luck in the first month or the first 80 at-bats, and being able to continue being diligent with the work and making sure that the process of that is in the right place.”"
Despite the lack of results, Happ has been doing a lot well. He ranks in the 97th percentile in terms of hard-hit rate, 87th in walk rate and sits in the top 20 percent of the league in average exit velocity, per Baseball Savant. But at the end of the day, it’s the numbers on the back of the baseball card that people care about – and the Chicago outfielder is hoping Sunday was just the start of his luck turning.
The big game is a bright spot, regardless. But the fact he collected all three hits against a left-hander is even more impressive given his past struggles against southpaws. Everyone knows Happ is stronger from the left side. Even if he can marginally improve from the right, he becomes far more dangerous.
In his career, Happ carries an .843 OPS against right-handers – compared to a .709 mark against lefties. Out of the leadoff spot for the time being, he’ll have the opportunity to start leveling out those numbers. Given the tremendous amount of potential roster turnover we could see in the next month or so, suffice to say – having Ian Happ locked in at the dish will be a key to the Cubs down the stretch.