Ian Happ Makes Cubs History, Reyes Progressing, Espinal Released, Alcántara Pop, and Other Cubs Bullets

The Cubs are now 13-8 in their last 21 games. I’m not suggesting we DO anything with that information, I just thought it was nice to point out. This has never been a “good” team in 2022, but when healthy, it’s definitely not been a “terrible” team either.

  • There’s a reason why this is hard for a lot of (even very good) players to pull off, but this Ian Happ factoid is still pretty crazy when you think about it:
  • So, a little Cubs history there for Ian Happ. If you’re wondering, Kris Bryant didn’t get it because of the pandemic season and his struggles there, Anthony Rizzo didn’t get it because he actually debuted in a stub season with the Padres, Willson Contreras didn’t get to 10 in the pandemic season, Javy Báez had partial seasons for a couple years before establishing himself, etc. Getting to 10 in that first season, and then doing it through even the pandemic season, is really tough. There are a lot of external circumstances required. (Despite the obvious joke, none of the players who didn’t reach this threshold failed to reach it because of a trade or non-tender!)
  • Happ is up to .280/.356/.441/121 wRC+ on the year, though the thing to keep an eye on as his season winds down is the .354 BABIP (which is floating the line a bit in conjunction with the reduced ISO and BB% this season). That reads a bit high based on his historical norms and the quality of his contact this year, so you’d like to see more barrels (and probably more walks, while keeping the strikeouts down) the rest of the way to feel like the overall performance this year can carry into next.
  • Also, somehow convince Ian that he’s playing every game in Cincinnati. 2023 MVP, guaranteed.
  • Adrian Sampson on new Cubs slugger Franmil Reyes, and how he’s adjusted to his new team (Cubs.com): “That power is incredible. It just looks like he just drops the bat, and [the ball] goes 360 feet. We’re very happy to have him here. He’s fit right in right from the get-go. It’s hard to put yourself into a new team in the middle of the season, but it was such an easy transition for him. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
  • When claimed by the Cubs, Reyes was hitting just .213/.254/.350/69 wRC+. Three Cubs games later, he’s up to .222/.260/.364/74 wRC+. Progress!
  • A comment that is not about last night’s Cubs-Reds game, but is instead about highlights I have seen increasingly over the last few weeks and data points I’ve randomly been checking … they have totally stopped ACTUALLY checking for sticky stuff, haven’t they? This is going to be a problem at some point for pitchers, I suspect, because the league is going to send out a reminder memo to umpires who’ve been taking it casual.
  • Righty Raynel Espinal has been released from the Iowa Cubs, and if you don’t recognize the name, that’s not a surprise: he was the return in the Dixon Machado trade … maybe another name you don’t recognize? That was the veteran depth shortstop at Triple-A that the Cubs sent to the Giants just before the deadline since he was not going to be coming up to the big league team. The Cubs wanted to give him that chance, even if the return was minimal (Espinal was a similar veteran who was not likely to stick with the Cubs, and didn’t). Unfortunately, Espinal is now gone from the Cubs, and Machado has since been outrighted back to the minors for the Giants. A low-stakes, low-probability trade that kinda just didn’t work out for anyone.
  • I like a lot about this (including a dominant outing from Ryan Jensen – sooooo good to see), but what’s funny to me is how there’s a list of six relievers who had great nights, and we really have only talked much about ONE of them before (Jeremiah Estrada). That’s how many relief prospects the Cubs have who are pitching so well lately:
  • The Kevin Alcántara mention comes from his big game, including his easy oppo power when he gets the arms extended:
  • That is NOT an easy park to go out to right field, much less when that’s opposite field for you (I’ve got that as Alcántara’s first extra-base hit at his home park since the second day of JULY). This season, if nothing else, has confirmed that Alcántara is going to have enormous power potential, especially when he fills out. Really the only question is whether he’ll hit well enough overall for that power to show up in games as he climbs the ladder.
  • A nice outing for old friend Tommy Nance, who hasn’t had a ton of success with the Marlins yet, but it’s impossible not to root for it:
  • Someone gonna give Jacob deGrom 4/$180M:
  • Eep. This is a bit like watching later-years Adam Dunn trying to play in the outfield:
  • Great memory here, because these were the best of Pedro Strop’s fist pumps:
  • 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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