Happ’s Prolific Strikeout Rate, Wild Cardinals-Brewers Game, Villanueva Breakout, and Other Bullets

The Masters has banned the phrase “Dilly Dilly” from the tournament this year. Say it, and you’ll be kicked out. This is real.

  • Ian Happ struck out at a 31.2% clip last year, which, even in this high-strikeout environment, is enormous – and long-term problematic. But he was also just 22, had only one full season as a professional baseball player under his belt, and was making his big league debut after changing his game up a bit to become more of a flyball hitter. That his strikeout rate would be enormous was far from a surprise (and he still produced very well in spite of it). It would also not be surprising to see that number come down considerably as soon as this year, with Happ settling in as a big leaguer, adjusting to how pitchers are attacking him, etc. In fact, I’d bet on it.
  • In the early going, of course, Happ has struck out in a comical 10 of his 18 plate appearances. The sample of statistics there is so small that it doesn’t tell you anything alone, and the visual has been a mixed bag – some of Happ’s Ks have come on ugly swings (his swinging strike rate is an unbelievable (but again, small sample) 24.7%), but a couple have come on edge-strike pitches that he decided to take. I don’t think we can take much away from this, and I *CERTAINLY* don’t want to see the Cubs yanking Happ from the leadoff spot after just five games.
  • It’s on Joe Maddon’s radar, though, and he believes Happ has gotten a little too pull happy (Tribune): “Primarily for me, a lot of it is he got in ‘pull mode’ too fast. He hasn’t shown that propensity (to hit to the opposite field) yet. When he gets back over there, he’ll take off.” I won’t even look at the data this season on this, because we’re talking about a literal handful of balls in play. Instead, I’ll just say that Happ has a ton of opposite-field power – he showed it last year – so he’s not a guy who *has* to become pull-oriented in order to maximize his power. Maddon’s probably onto something.
  • Oh, also: you are reminded that a guy being blistering hot in Spring Training means diddly plop when the regular season starts.
  • (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

  • The Brewers won last night on back-to-back homers in the 9th inning, the second of which was a walk-off, which would normally be galling beyond words, but it came against the Cardinals … so … mixed feelings. The Cardinals, I’m sure, can’t wait to get Greg Holland ramped up and ready to go. He’s expected to join the team on Monday.
  • Speaking of that game:
  • Remember Christian Villanueva? The former Cubs third base prospect missed his window to play with the Cubs thanks to a horribly-timed leg injury and lengthy rehab, and he ultimately became a minor league free agent who understandably preferred to sign with a team where he could more easily see a shot at maybe starting down the road. That team was the Padres, and the 26-year-old is taking his opportunity and running with it:
  • If you missed last night’s late-night fun, there were two things:
  • My parents live in southwest Ohio, so if you were curious about the line of storms that wound up postponing yesterday’s Cubs game, here’s an example that hit a little too close to home:
  • Memory foam and a power tool set are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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