Ian Happ

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Ian Edward Happ

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Ian Happ was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft with the ninth overall pick. He soon signed for a $3 million bonus and made his pro debut with the Eugene Emeralds on June 19th. He split that season between Eugene and the South Bend Cubs. In 67 games, he hit .259 with 9 homers and 33 RBIs, also scoring 50 runs. In 2016, he played 134 games between the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the AA Tennessee Smokies, hitting .279/.365/.445 with 30 doubles and 15 homers, scoring 72 runs and driving in 73.

He headed into the 2017 season as the Cubs' top prospect, although it was unlikely that he could break into the line-up for the defending World Champions. He therefore started the season in AAA with the Iowa Cubs, hitting .298 with 9 homers in 26 games. He was called up on May 13th when Jason Heyward went on the disabled list. He started in right field, hitting second against the St. Louis Cardinals and going 1 for 3 with a homer and a walk, scoring once and driving in two runs in a 5-3 loss. The homer was off Carlos Martinez in the 7th. He added another homer in a 9-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds three days later. He started hot but then slumped a bit, going through a 4-for-32 stretch, until on June 4th, he had the multiple-homer game of his career, going deep twice and driving in four runs against Michael Wacha of the Cardinals in a 7-6 Cubs win. By then, with Heyward back from the DL, manager Joe Maddon had moved him to centerfield, and he was batting in the lead-off slot, replacing the struggling Kyle Schwarber. He ended up playing 115 games and hitting .253 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs. On defence, he played all three outfield spots and second base and it was as a second baseman that he was voted to the 2017 Topps All-Star Rookie Team. In the postseason, he went 0 for 3 in 2 games in the Division Series, and 1 for 4 in the NLCS as the Cubs were eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games.

There was still some question in spring training in 2018 about what his exact role would be, although it was clear he was going to be on the roster and would see plenty of action. As it were, he opened the year as the Cubs' leadoff hitter on Opening Day, March 29th, facing the Miami Marlins as the Cubs' center fielder. It was the first of 15 games scheduled that day, and he promptly homered on the first pitch of the ballgame - and of the major league season - off Jose Urena, sending the Cubs on their way to an 8-4 win. In spite of that good beginning, he was in a slump the first few weeks of the year and was hitting just .204 on April 19th, with just 2 doubles and 2 homers in 14 games, but he began to improve after that. On May 19th, he homered in both games of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds; the second of these long balls, off Sal Romano in the 4th inning of a 10-0 win in the nitecap, was the 14,000th homer in Cubs history. He finished the season at .233 in 142 games with 15 homers and 44 RBIs. He played all three outfield positions, also seeing time at third base when Kris Bryant was injured. However, he did not start the Wild Card Game against the Colorado Rockies on October 2nd, coming in as a pinch-hitter for P Jon Lester to lead off the bottom of the 6th with the Cubs trailing, 1-0. He drew a walk against Kyle Freeland and went to second on a one-out single by Bryant, but the inning ended when the next batter, Anthony Rizzo, grounded into a double play.

Happ again seemed certain to make the Cubs out of spring training in 2019 and most observers thought he would displace an aging Ben Zobrist as the team's most-used second baseman, but he had an awful camp, hitting just .135. The Cubs decided to option him to AAA so that he could get regular playing time in order to find his hitting stroke.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jay Cohen (Associated Press): "Happ preparing for key role with Cubs", USA Today Sports, March 1, 2018. [1]
  • Carrie Muskat: "Like fine wine, Happ savors his playing time", mlb.com, March 14, 2018. [2]

Related Sites[edit]