It was a dark time for Chicago Cubs fans during the final days of July 2021. The team had sold off the core, they were miles away from playoff contention and Ian Happ was really struggling. On July 31, Happ was sporting a dismal .180/.294/.326 slash with a 71 wRC+ and 28.8 percent strikeout rate in 93 games. This had people thinking it was the end of the road for Happ’s tenure on the North Side. Since that day, he has remarkably done a complete 180.
Cubs: Ian Happ’s miraculous turnaround since August 1, 2021
From August 1 through the end of 2021, Happ hit .280/.363/.581 with a .944 OPS and 147 wRC+ in 55 games. Happ recorded 57 hits in those final two months with 12 multi-hit games, he recorded just 48 hits and six multi-hit games in his first 93 games. The fact he raised his batting average 46 points by the time the season ended is pretty telling of how strong he finished.
So far he has carried that production into 2022. Combined with his final 55 games of 2021 and the first 19 of 2022, Happ is hitting .295/.378/.554 with 17 home runs, 51 RBI and .932 OPS in 74 games. Of his 76 total hits over that time, 32 of them are of the extra-base variety.
Suddenly, Happ went from the bottom of the barrel to one of the team’s offensive anchors. In 2022 he is in the 90th percentile in walks, 67th in HardHit and 55th in barrels. His BABIP is currently .370, so he is making a lot of all balls in play both soft and well-hit. His ability to walk has always been a strength of his, so that is no surprise. While his HardHit% and Barrel% are really not mind-blowing stats, they are both above the average mark, so it is not like he is only dribbling squibbers and floating ducksnorts and getting lucky. He has made some solid contact while also placing the ball well.
There will be slumps and season numbers in certain categories will likely come down a bit, but as long as the approach continues to be sound, he can maintain overall production at the plate. His key will be continued patience and making the most of the pitches he can handle in the zone.
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What fans hope for is that this can truly be the first full season of a productive Happ. We saw the ups and downs of 2018, 2019 and 2021. He was their best hitter in 2020 but that was a 60-game season with not nearly the same sample size as a normal one.