Cubs: Ian Happ is tearing the cover off the ball and finally getting results
By Jake Misener
A few weeks back, I wrote about how Cubs outfielder Ian Happ was confident in what he was doing at the plate – despite putting up some atrocious numbers. Following a collision with Nico Hoerner, he headed to the IL and, since coming back, has been an unstoppable force at the plate.
Over his last seven games, the former first-round pick is hitting .348/.375/.957 for the North Siders. In Thursday’s series finale win over Washington, Happ smacked a pair of home runs – giving him six on the year. Of his last eight hits, four have left the yard and another two were doubles.
Looking at the data, we knew this was bound to happen. The guy has been scorching balls all season long, ranking in the top two percent of the league with a 56.1 percent hard-hit rate on the year. He also checks in in the 84th percentile in both barrel percentage and walk rate, further evidence of his intrinsic value to the team.
Cubs: Is Ian Happ the long-term answer in the middle of the order?
The showstopper for Chicago all year has been Kris Bryant, who looks like he’ll be the team’s most valuable trade chip come June and July. If Jed Hoyer ships him out, it’ll be up to guys like Happ to anchor the lineup down the stretch and into 2022 and beyond.
"“We’ve had a lot of guys take really incredible at-bats,” Happ told MLB.com on Thursday. “The whole thing collectively has been really impressive.”"
Chicago took three of four from Washington, narrowly missing out on a sweep of the 2019 World Series champions. The Cubs have been much more balanced at the dish, seeing guys like Happ, Anthony Rizzo and Matt Duffy contribute to the offensive attack.
Given the team’s lack of outfield depth, getting contributions from players like Happ is critical if the Cubs hope to get back on top of the National League Central. All eyes will be on this weekend’s series against the Cardinals down in St. Louis with David Ross’ club having a chance to leap frog the Redbirds in the standings with a strong showing.
My hat’s off to Happ. He stuck with what he was doing, trusted in the data and is finally getting the results we all hoped for. Last year, he looked like the guy the front office envisioned when it drafted him back in 2015. Now, he’s ready to prove that was no fluke and he’s ready to be a key part of the next great Cubs team.