Welcome Back, Ian Happ! The Hot Streak, the SLG, the Awesomeness, the Quotes, More

When Ian Happ stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning last night at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs’ win expectancy sat somewhere right around 40% (Statcast, FanGraphs). But for the third time in the game, Happ found grass, depositing the go-ahead, game-winning double into the right field corner.

Ian Happ Comes Through Big!

After that, the Cubs win expectancy increased to over 88%… a huge swing from Ian Happ (fun double-meaning there), who has had a lot of those moments lately.

Indeed, I keep going back to that May 16 cutoff date, when he was benched for a couple days to clear his head. In the 65 plate appearances since then, Happ is slashing .263/.338/.632 (169 wRC+) with six doubles, five homers, and just a 23.1% strikeout rate. During that stretch, Happ has also been absolutely blistering the ball:

  • 93.1 MPH exit velocity (20th in MLB)
  • 55.8 hard% (18th)
  • 20.9 barrel rate (9th)
  • For a little context on that barrel rate, last year’s league leader, Shohei Ohtani, finished with a 19.3% barrel rate. So, yeah, Happ’s smoking it. But Happ actually thinks his turnaround started a little later.

    Here he is post-game talking about the swing he made on a pinch-hit flyout in St. Louis being the turning point:

    For the season as a whole, Ian Happ’s overall slash line has him up to a 113 wRC+, which almost exactly in line with his career mark (115 wRC+). His strikeout rate is still a little high overall (26.7%), but if that’s what it’ll take to keep this power surge alive, I think we’d all accept that tradeoff. The Cubs need SLG right now, and he’s the main guy providing it lately (and for what it’s worth, he’s pulling the ball more than he ever has in his career, so maybe there’s a little something to the surge… we’ll look into that another day, perhaps).

    As you can expect, Craig Counsell is enjoying the production:

    While we’re talking Happ, here are a few other important stats and stories of relevance:

  • According to Statcast, Happ has actually been a little unlucky overall this year, with his .330 xWOBA slightly outpacing his actual results (.326).
  • Happ’s production as a righty hitter is just about league average, while his lefty swing is actually up to a 117 wRC+
  • In moments categorized as “high leverage” this season, Happ is slashing .240/.321/.440, which is well above league average (119 wRC+). And he’s striking out just 17.9% of the time in those at-bats, which is especially nice to see.
  • And his “Clutch” score relative to the rest of the team falls in behind only Nico Hoerner (who always seems to come through in big moments)
  • Good, good shit.

    Oh, and after tonight’s finale against the White Sox, the Cubs are heading to Cincinnati, where Ian Happ is a career .329/.429/.731 (200 wRC+) hitter over 198 plate appearances. What a perfect time for the turnaround.

    Ian Happ
    © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    And since we’re all feeling good about Happ at the moment, here’s a reminder that his podcast, The Compound, is doing a live taping at The Music Box theater later this month, and you can buy tickets here.

    You can check out all the details of that show from our earlier post. I’ll be in attendance and there will be some other surprise Cubs players showing up. I was given a heads up on who’s joining, and while I can’t share that info yet, I am certain you’ll be happy when it’s announced.

    written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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