Ian Happ leadoff hitter?

The Cubs need a leadoff hitter, this is undisputed. I submit may be the best candidate. In 2017 Cub leadoff hitters slashed .246/.324/.422, the middle number being most concerning. The Cubs desperately need a leadoff hitter who will get on base at a greater than .350 clip. I think Happ can easily surpass that mark. While most Cubs fans’ first impression of Ian Happ was his power, his 2017 homerun numbers were actual an aberration. Happ’s greatest attribute, and the reason the Cubs drafted him, is his knack for getting on base.

Happ slashed .253/.328/.514 last year, with a 9.4% walk rate. Hardly leadoff hitter numbers. Yet Happ posted an OBP above .440 in each of his three college seasons. He also posted a .408 OBP in his 2015 low A ball debut, a .410 mark in 2016 at high A, and a respectable .362 at AAA in 2017. He did flounder each season after promotion, dropping to .315 in A ball in 2015, .318 in AA in 2016, and .328 in the majors in 2017. Yet each offseason he regrouped, learned, and improved; and then dominated in higher competition the next year. I expect the same pattern to continue.

If Happ raises his walk rate to 11%, which is more consistent with his minor league production, and raises his batting average by only 10 points, his should post an OBP in the .350-.360 range. This would make him a solid leadoff hitter. Happ is a switch hitter with positional flexibility (CF, LF, 2B). This would allow him to stay in the line-up regardless of pitching matchups and defensive alignments. I suspect Joe Maddon will give Happ the first chance to prove he can be the Cubs’s 2018 leadoff hitter.

What do you think?

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Comments

Amen! People forget Happ only had 116 PAs at AAA before seeing major league pitching. I expect a significant improvement in both his K and BB rates this year.

Hopefully, but sadly it may be just as likely that the league will adjust to him and he will have a sophomore slump.

well, he hit another leadoff homer today. so he's got that going for him. ...and a double. hell of a spring so far, but he's no mike freeman.

Roy Orbison says Albert Almora is singing for the lonely. “Hey, It’s me, and I want to lead off only...”

I was looking over the numbers for Happ, Almora, and a couple others pondering this same question. I agree with what you suggest here, moshe--a slight boost to BB% and slight drop in K% (down to Baez territory even) might be enough to make Happ the best leadoff candidate, provided he doesn't do worse on balls in play. I'm less optimistic that Almora could boost his walk rate or keep his BABIP high enough to maintain an OBP over .340 or so. But there's not really a compelling candidate beyond those two, unless you are a Zobrist or Heyward believer.

there seems to be no obvious clear leadoff type...no legit/traditional type of either the "speed leads" or "ob% monster leads" types anyway.

 

i hope they go with the bryant 2nd, rizzo 3rd thing again, though.  it may only amount to 20-ish more PA's a year moving up a slot, but giving those 2 guys 40-ish more PA a year combined isn't something i'd complain about.

AZ Phil, is there a reason why Alzolay or Hatch haven’t pitched yet?

Obviously, not Phil.

That said, I' not sure either is in camp to get a game or three of pre-season games in. While they might get an inning here or there, they might be in camp more for time with the coaches more than for actual game time.

 

The extra time with the coaches is more important than game time for both, possibly.

darvish scratched because of "illness"...a.mills getting the start today strop sore left calf b.morrow is supposedly fine, but the cubs aren't in a hurry to get him early work

darvish did toss a pen session today, btw.  if everything goes as planned he'll make his spring debut march 6th.

No need to rush Morrow, he may have pitched more WS innings than Darvish did. 

Maybe ToMorrow.

Happ 2run HR

Just scanning box score.  Duensing bouncing back with a clean inning and 2Ks, any word on how his stuff looked?

It sounds like Travis Wood hurt his knee badly during a spring game today with the Tigers.

"torn left ACL and medial meniscus"

  ow.  he's most likely done for the year.

In case some of you haven't already seen this.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/cubs-mastered-...

36 pitch 1st for Q...yow.  only gave up 1 run, though...luckily.

Three innings worth of Spring Training work without ever leaving the mound.  Veteran move.

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