Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Kris Who? All-Star Happ Outperforming Former MVP


The Cubs are six games above .500 since the All-Star break and with the trade deadline behind them, the team is pushing forward with the next phase of its rebuild. That phase includes All-Stars Willson Contreras and Ian Happ for now. Contreras, a free agent at yearend, recently expressed his desire to remain with the ballclub. Per The Athletic:

“This team, I think we have something special in here, to be honest…I want to be part of what’s going on here because in the second half we’ve been playing really good baseball” Contreras said.

Wanting to bring Contreras back versus making him the highest-paid catcher in baseball history, topping J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies 5-year, $115.5 million dollar contract, the likely price to guarantee his return, is another story. There’s no doubting, however, that Contreras is the heart and soul of the Cubs. The latest example, he was the first player to run over and celebrate teammate Ian Happ’s 100th career home run.

Ian Happ Outperforming His World Series Peers

2022 has been a breakthrough season for Cubs outfielder Ian Happ. He was named a National League All-Star for the first time, and the switch-hitting former infielder has settled in as the everyday left fielder. Happ’s Jekyll and Hyde start to his career often frustrated Cubs fans and management alike. It seemed like every time they were counting on him, he would let them down, only to eventually bounce back with a career-saving stretch. But this year feels different. Happ has sustained his All-Star caliber play throughout the season, already setting a career-high in doubles (31), which is tied for 12th in all of baseball. He’s on pace for a career best batting average (.279) and should easily top his single-season RBI and stolen base highs. With 13 home runs, it’s not out of the question that Happ top last season’s career high 25 home runs either. He became the 26th Cub with at least 100 career home runs; here’s another look at that blast:

Happ Outperforming Former MVP Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant will forever be looked upon fondly during his time as a Cub — as he should be! He threw out the final runner to win the 2016 World Series, ending a 108-year World Series drought.

Bryant added the National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award to his 2016 World Series Winning season. After being drafted 2nd overall in 2013, Bryant went on to win Rookie of the Year and really embodied the Cubs’ resurgence more than any other player. But as we all know, Bryant, Javier Báez, and Anthony Rizzo were shipped out of town at the trade deadline last year, bringing in a new era for all three players and the Cubs.

Kris Bryant Heads West

Bryant signed a seven-year, $182 million dollar contract ($26M per year) with the Colorado Rockies in the offseason. The idea of bringing the former MVP to the thin air at Coors Field seemed like a win-win scenario for Bryant and the Rockies.  Sadly, the injury bug has derailed Bryant and the Rockies’ plans. Bryant has played in only 42 games. As the great Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon of ESPN say, “your best ability is your availability.” Bryant only has five home runs and 14 RBI while Ian Happ has 13 and 56, respectively. Happ’s wins-above-replacement (WAR) tops Bryant’s 3.5 to 0.4. Happ’s OPS ranks in the top 45 in baseball while Bryant’s .851 OPS shows that when healthy, he was at least getting on base and hitting for decent power. Cubs fans still miss Kris Bryant, and rightly so, but if injuries persist for the former Cub, his best days could be behind him.

Cubs Have Happ’s Flexibility For At Least Another Season

Under club control through 2023, Ian Happ will be the Cubs opening day left fielder next year unless they’re blown away by a trade offer this offseason. He will likely get a raise from the $6.85-million he’s making this season in his last year of arbitration. For the Cubs, it’s a win-win. They’ll get one more look at a notoriously streaky career hitter. If Happ performs in 2023 like he did this season, he’ll get an even bigger raise in 2024.


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Aug 26, 2022 2:47 am

probably the dumbest article ive ever read…happ never has been and never will be in kris bryant territory…hes having an ok year only because theres no pressure….he cant perform when it matters

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