Since the beginning of his career, a lot of Ian Happ’s value has come from his versatility. His ability to play every outfield position, as well as the left side of the infield, paired with his switch-hitting abilities were big reasons the Chicago Cubs found him worthy of their 2015 first-round pick. But, many have noticed that Happ has only been serviceable at the plate batting left-handed.
Sure, nearly every switch-hitter has a favorable side, but Happ’s numbers as a righty were below-average before 2022. From his debut in 2017 to 2021, his on-base percentage as a righty was .317, as opposed to the .424 mark he’s posted from the right side to start the 2022 campaign.
Generally, the left-handed side has lent itself to more pop in Happ’s bat throughout his career while the right-handed side was more about contact. However, he’s on pace to have a higher hard-hit percentage from the right-side since way back in 2017, his rookie season. It’s hard to say exactly what the change has been in his approach, but it seems like he is staying more patient and closed through the swing instead of opening up his body, leading to more power.
Referring back to the home run off Max Fried, he had seen an offspeed pitch batting right-handed 739 times in his career before 2022, and he only got on base 6.76 percent of the time, but fouled these pitches off at a 13 percent rate. In 2022, he is more likely to wait for a pitch he can hit hard, getting on base 12 percent of the time on offspeed pitches, while fouling the slower pitches at the exact same rate.
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It’s important to remember the sample sizes when comparing splits like these, but it’s a good sign he is hitting the ball much harder than the past few seasons from the right-handed batter’s box, which could realistically give him an even better season than he had in 2017, the last time he was better hitting righty than as a lefty.