Chicago Cubs News: Where Ian Happ Ranks Among Starting Left Fielders

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

After a rather disappointing 2022 season, this past offseason was an exciting one for the Chicago Cubs. Chicago undoubtedly made a big splash and built excitement for the upcoming 2023 season with additions including Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, and Jameson Taillon. That said, spring training games are finally here, and it will be great to see these superstars in action. 

Besides the newbies, there are many players to keep an eye on this spring, and one of them is Ian Happ. Happ has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. The 28-year-old left fielder really made a name for himself in 2022 and finally had his breakout year. Though he is a former first-round pick, Happ came up to the big leagues as a utility player for the Cubs. Mostly taking reps in the outfield, Happ was absolutely nothing to write home about. 

From midway through the 2021 season through the present day, Happ was able to successfully turn things around. He has embraced his full-time left-field role and has his first All-Star appearance and the first Gold Glove to prove it. Last season, Happ slashed .271/.342/.440, which is stellar next to his career slash line of .249/.339/.460. Not only that, Happ posted a .653 OPS from the right side in 2021. In 2022, this number became .788.

Needless to say, besides offensive improvement, a good amount of Happ’s progress was seen defensively. According to Baseball Savant, Happ garnered 14 defensive runs saved and ranked in the 78th percentile in outs above average. Anyone who has seen Happ on the field before last season knows how remarkable of a season the switch-hitter had in 2022. It seems like the improvement was so stark that the masses, including MLB Network, noticed.

Ian Happ Ranks Higher Than Many Think Among the Top 10 Left-Fielders In MLB

Before the offseason came to a close, MLB Network continued their annual tradition of ranking their “Top 10 Players Right Now” on MLB Now. In doing this, MLB Network covered every position, including left field. After being unranked in the past, Ian Happ made the network’s list, ranking ninth among all left-fielders in the league. 

Happ could have been ranked higher in the list, placing a few spots higher, arguably above the likes of other left-fielders, including Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and Los Angeles’ Taylor Ward. However, the fact that Happ even made this list among such talent shows he is getting the recognition he deserves heading into what could be his last season with the Chicago Cubs.

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It will be interesting to see if Happ can keep the success going and replicate his breakout year in 2022 this upcoming season. If he does, he will be one of the most wanted free agents to hit the market next winter. But who knows, the North Siders will trade him, or even lock him up long-term before this becomes a reality. Anything is possible.