Ian Happ isn’t quite the Cubs’ “starting center fielder” at this point, but he’s appeared at the position in all but three of his eleven big league games so far, and he’s started there in six of his last nine. He’s getting a whole lot of time in center field.
It’s still not enough to tell us much more than what our eyes see (me? I see passable, with some hesitation at the start of the route, but decent instincts and a good arm). I could tell you what the advanced metrics say, but that would be wholly disingenuous with such a tiny sample.
It is not, however, disingenuous to show you another diving play that he made yesterday, which is good and fun:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 26, 2017
That liner had a 73% hit probability off the bat, according to Statcast, which makes the catch all the more impressive.
Even more impressive? Happ gets up from those catches in a mighty cool, casual way. He did the same spin move after his diving catch earlier in the week., albeit in the opposite direction. He’s master two directions of post-catch, spin-move, get ups! (Yup. I am a professional, and I notice these things.)
So long as Happ keeps hitting, the Cubs will keep finding a spot for him, and right now, center field makes as much sense as anywhere else, especially as Happ continues to look playable out there. I’m curious how it will be when he starts making the rounds at other ballparks, as there’s probably a comfort at Wrigley Field (not only because it’s “home,” but also because it has a smaller center field).