Ian Happ Emerges As A Prime Candidate To Become Chicago Cubs’ Lead-Off Hitter

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Ian Happ is making a strong case to become the lead-off hitter for the Chicago Cubs. With his remarkable showing in MLB spring training, Ian Happ is continuing to show that he is capable of handling the nuances of batting first in the Cubs’ lineup.

According to ESPN, Ian Happ is impressing the Chicago Cubs coaches with his veteran-like approach at the plate during spring training. Thus far, Ian Happ has a spring stash-line of.429/.500/1.190, all while spending much of his time at the top of the order for the Cubs.

It remains to be seen whether the Chicago Cubs will make Ian Happ their opening day lead-off hitter; it is an open competition. However, the second-year outfielder is making it difficult for the Cubs to say no. Happ is confident that he will thrive at the top of the Cubs lineup. He is looking at it as an opportunity for more chances at the plate.

“My thought process going in is, it’s no different than anywhere else, I’m just going to get more at-bats. It’s a different perspective knowing you’re going to get five at-bats as opposed to three to four.”

If Ian Happ can continue to play well, the lead-off duties are his to lose.

Ian Happ lines a base hit.
Ian Happ’s combination of power and speed makes him a prime candidate to be the Chicago Cubs’ lead-off hitter.Featured image credit: Norm HallGetty Images

Last season, it was outfielder Kyle Schwarber who handled the top of the lineup duties for the Chicago Cubs on opening day. It was an experiment by Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Maddon was hoping to take advantage of Kyle Schwarber’s power and ability to make contact. It proved to be a failure as not only did Schwarber struggle at the plate, but the Cubs did not get enough runners on base to put pressure on opposing pitchers.

Scoring opportunities were not as plentiful for the Chicago Cubs last season. Timely base clearing hits from the season prior turned into hits with no baserunners for the Cubs.

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When Kyle Schwarber got on base, he was more of a station to station baserunner. If a Cubs hitter made an attempt to move Schwarber over, he could not advance two bases on most occasions. Much of that has to do with Kyle Schwarber being removed for a year and still recovering from a torn ACL (courtesy of Sports Illustrated). The injury to the Cubs outfielder took place in April 2016.

Kyle Schwarber returned this season much lighter to ensure that his speed will be faster. In the meantime, Ian Happ has enough speed to round the bases comfortably. If the Chicago Cubs elect to go with Happ at lead-off, expect more first and third baserunning situations for them.

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The Chicago Cubs would also benefit from Ian Happ’s stroke of power.

Joe Maddon seems inclined to wait the process out. The Cubs’ manager suggests that despite Ian Happ’s hot spring, he could bat at the bottom of the Cubs’ order (courtesy of the Cubbies Crib). Judging from Maddon’s penchant for trying things, Ian Happ can bat all over the Cubs’ lineup.

As of now, it appears that Ian Happ will be the lead-off hitter for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs need a table-setter at the top of the batting order. Ian Happ could be just what the Chicago Cubs need.