Overall, it was a good season for Chicago Cubs left fielder Ian Happ. The bow on it all? A second consecutive Gold Glove Award for his defensive efforts in left field. Although his batting average dipped in 2023 to .248 from .271 the year prior, he managed a career-high in walks and on-base percentage (.360), unless you count 2020's shortened season, during which he posted a .361.
Still, there are a few key areas Happ can improve offensively to catapult his game to that top-tier offensive player he has the potential to be.
Ian Happ's numbers against right-handers offer a huge area of improvement
- Home: .224/.347/.376, .290 BABIP, 103 wRC+
- Away: .291/.412/.524, .327 BABIP, 153 wRC+
I wanted to go over vs. RHP in general because that is where Happ takes most of his at-bats (411 against RHP vs. 169 against LHP), and I noticed the spike in production on the road vs. at Wrigley Field. It's night and day how effective he is on the road against righties, where he becomes one of the upper-echelon players in baseball. This will have to balance out if Happ is to take his offensive game to a new level in 2024.
In 2022, when Happ earned his first All-Star selection, it was polar opposite by the time the season ended. His slash at Wrigley, in general, was .308/.383/.467 (142 wRC+) vs. .232/.342/.407 (108 wRC+) this season.
Nerves? Pressure to live up to a contract extension in front of your home crowd and prove yourself? Either way, something was clearly off with Happ at Wrigley this past season, and he needs to put it behind him and get back to what he was doing the year prior. If he can balance the two and stay consistent, home and away, he can give the team a vital spark at the dish.
As it sits, he is the only power hitter that takes at-bats from the left side of the plate, only further proof the team needs Cody Bellinger back long-term. Still, a little more balance from Happ in 2024 can help improve a team that has yet to make any improvements to its lineup this offseason.