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Ian Happ and Junior Lake Were Very Good Rookies and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

I am currently working in the parking lot at my gym because it was more efficient to just come here after dropping off one of the kids at school (which came after a doctor’s appointment for another kid) even though the class I’m taking isn’t for an hour. So I’m bundled up in my jacket with my coffee and my oatmeal (did I mention I made myself oatmeal during the kiddo hand-off and brought it with me in the car), pecking away at my computer, and someone is undoubtedly going to call security on the guy living in their parking lot.


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  • In extremely unsurprising news, Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger not only won the AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards, but each was a unanimous selection. And rightly so. They dominated from start to finish, and deserved the honor.
  • Ian Happ did receive one third place vote in the NL in an extremely dense year of quality rookies (Bellinger, Josh Bell, Paul DeJong, Rhys Hoskins, German Marquez, Manuel Margot, etc.). He also won a very prestigious honor from me:

  • Happ’s presence on the 2017 Cubs ensured that they had an impact rookie for the fourth straight season. I could go back even further if you count Junior Lake, which I probably should – hey, you joke, but the guy did post a 112 wRC+ over 254 plate appearances in 2013, and was worth 1.5 WAR.

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  • You may find it mildly unsettling to know that Happ, 23, posted a nearly identical 113 wRC+ and was worth a nearly identical 1.8 WAR as Lake was in his age 23 rookie season. Happ even struck out 31.2% to Lake’s 26.8%. Now, then, there are clear difference between the players (Happ walks far more, has far more playable power, is not a clear defensive liability, put up his offensive numbers over 50% more plate appearances, etc.), and the point here is not at all to compare them as players. Instead, I just found it interesting how close they were in results when Lake quickly became an afterthought, and Happ is viewed as a valuable, versatile piece for the near future. It can all turn so quickly.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • The reported contract details for the Nationals on new manager (and former Cubs bench coach) Dave Martinez are out, and per the Washington Post, it’s a typically modest deal for the miserly Nationals (but not totally out of whack for first-time managers): three years and just $2.8 million (with a $1.2 million option for for the fourth year). Of more interest in the report is the indication that Henry Blanco, the Cubs’ quality control coach, will be leaving with Martinez to become his bullpen coach. So, the Cubs will have YET ANOTHER coaching position to fill (currently, first base coach is still also open).
  • This will hit you today:

  • Mookie Betts is incredible:

  • I once bowled a 230 when I was 14, so I’m pretty sure that makes me almost a professional baseball player.
  • If you missed it later last evening, the Cubs have reportedly talked to the Orioles about Zach Britton.
  • Also, despite an earlier report to the contrary, the Cubs DID NOT go over the luxury tax cap in 2017.
  • A side chat yesterday on Twitter about the hype videos the Cubs used at Wrigley Field before games over the past two years led to a delightful new tag line for the site:

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  • Deals today at Amazon include Crayola products, furniture, cookware, and 60% off a robot vacuum(!).
  • Also, the clearance event at the MLB Shop ends tonight – so check out the Cubs gear here to see what’s on a bigger sale than usual.
  • META: Here’s a dilemma for a site like BN. We want to provide you, among other things, the latest news and rumors as soon as they’re available, together with our deconstruction and analysis. There are a couple unnamed, long-time MLB writers out there who HAVE broken big news in the past, and who purvey very specific rumors that purport to be sourced in a very meaningful way. And when they bust out big news or rumors, I feel compelled to share, not only because there is a chance it could be accurate, but mostly because it presents information that merits analysis and/or rebuke (because it’s going to spread among the Cubs internet world whether I comment on it or not). But man alive, those couple writers are just flat out wrong ALL the time. So what am I to do? Should I just completely ignore reports from them going forward? I’m really tempted to take that tack, as I have before with less established, and less trustworthy sources. If you see us ignoring a salacious report, then, until it garners support from someone else, now you’ll know why.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.