Just a Reminder, Ian Happ Owns Cincinnati

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Just a Reminder, Ian Happ Owns Cincinnati

Chicago Cubs

Before his Gold Glove + All-Star campaign last season, Ian Happ’s career had been defined largely by his frequent ups and downs. The valleys were low, the peaks were high, and we were just along for the ride.

But there’s always been one geographic exception to the rule: Cincinnati.

The former Cincinnati Bearcat absolutely LOVES playing in Ohio, with nothing but unbridled success at Great American Ballpark each year of his career.

Ian Happ’s wRC+ at GAB

2017: 256 wRC+
2018: 263 wRC+
2019: 145 wRC+
2020: 160 wRC+
2021: 200 wRC+
2022: 126 wRC+

All told, his numbers there are absurd (43 games, 168 PAs): .313/.411/.729 (194 wRC+) with a 14.3% walk rate a 1.140 OPS, 10 doubles, one triple, and 16(!) homers. That’s one home run every 9 at-bats and an extra base hit every 5.33 at-bats. That’s hilarious.

Happ’s Batted Ball Data

And it’s not just that the ballpark conditions are better (though they are). He actually hits the ball better there, too:

GAB: 45.2 hard%, 12.5 soft%, 42.5 FB%, 22.1 LD%,
Other: 32.7 hard%, 16.1 soft%, 35.1 FB%, 20.3 LD%

Who knows why? At this point, it feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pretty much everyone is aware of his success there, so he probably heads into that park with a ton of confidence.

I bring all this up, of course, because the Cubs are heading to Cincinnati today for the first of three games at Great American Ballpark and, barring injury, Happ will be starting all three games in left field, each game as a lefty against the Reds trio of right-handed starters.

Happ’s Matchup History

Connor Overton, RHP: 1-2 (1B)
Luis Cessa, RHP: 2-8, HR, BB
Hunter Greene, RHP: 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 BBs, 3K

In the meantime, Happ has been off to a nice start at the plate, albeit with too many strikeouts: 3-12, HR, 3 BBs, 5Ks. His average exit velocity has been strong (90.1 MPH). His launch angle is good (15.8 degrees), and he’s spitting on a TON of pitches out of the zone (hence the three walks). It’s a nothingburger sample. So I’m not making any proclamations. But he does seem to be picking up where he left off last season as is basically the only other productive hitter on the Cubs other than Dansby Swanson (Nico Hoerner and Patrick Wisdom have made some contributions, too).

If the Cubs are going to compete this season, they’re going to have to win a disproportionate amount of their early games, especially within the division. So let’s hope Happ keeps up with history here and carries this Cubs offense into a series win in Cincinnati.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami