Cubs have some pieces in the outfield, but will need even more next year
Ian Happ: A-
Making his first All-Star team, Ian Happ went from zero to hero compared to the first half of 2021. While not hitting 20+ home runs like in years past, he hit a career-high 42 doubles and racked up 155 hits. It was great to see consistency at the plate all year for the first time in his career. It is also worth noting the improvement he made from the right side. As a fielder, he sported a 14 DRS in the outfield. Really good stuff.
Seiya Suzuki: B
An overall solid first MLB season for the former NPB star. As expected, he went through periods where adjustments needed to be made, but he was able to step up to the challenge. His eye at the plate was extraordinary and he displayed some decent pop, tallying 38 extra-base hits in 111 games. He will definitely look to take that next step in 2023, but he’s off to a good start. One knock would be the defensive struggles he had at times, but that can hopefully get cleaned up.
Rafael Ortega: C
He posted a .331 OBP in 118 games, which is not bad by any means. He even hit .270/.361/.402 in his first 63 games, but the production took a dip before his season unfortunately ended after fracturing his finger. His baserunning was not so great, the defense was middle of the road.
Nelson Velázquez: C-
Like Morel, it is not as easy evaluating a 23-year old kid making his debut fairly. He showed some nice flashes, hitting the ball very hard at times, but there is a lot of work to be done. Hopefully next year he takes a big step forward. You can’t write him off just yet.
Jason Heyward: F
What ended up as Jason Heyward’s final year as a Cub was particularly rough. It was time for both sides to move on. The veteran continued to carry himself very well and gave a classy farewell. A great guy and teammate but, that said, we have to look at the on-field numbers with our grades.
Franmil Reyes: C-
A no-risk move that started off really well, hitting .368 in his first nine as a Cub, but then fizzled out. Reyes hit just .197 in his final 39 games. Reyes was a fun guy to root for, but likely will not be back next year.
Michael Hermosillo: F
Played hard and made some nice catches in the outfield, but the production was just not there.