Sending Ian Happ to Minors Not Being Discussed by Maddon, Front Office

Joe Maddon has not talked with the front office about the possibility of Ian Happ going to Iowa in the same manner we saw Kyle Schwarber demoted last season.

You don’t need to be reminded just how poorly Happ is hitting, but I’m going to remind you anyway. After coming off of an impressive rookie season in which he hit .253 with 24 homers and a .349 wOBA, the switch-hitting utility player is only hitting .236 with three homers and a .296 wOBA. Happ is currently producing about 16 percent fewer runs than an average hitter at the moment.

There are times when a player’s underlying peripherals suggest inevitable improvement in standard run creation numbers, but that’s unfortunately not the case for Happ. After making contact on 67 percent of pitches in 2017, he is only squaring up 56.1 percent of pitches in the early going of 2018. In particular, Happ’s zone contact is 13 percent lower compared to last year, which suggests he’s even missing hittable pitches. Combine that with an outside-the-zone swing rate greater than 15 percent than last season and things don’t look encouraging.

Even if we narrow down Happ’s plate discipline numbers to just the last week, he’s only making contact on half his swings. So whatever he and hitting coach Chili Davis are working on has yet to translate into noticeable improvements.

We’ll have to exercise patience with Happ because adjusting to major league pitching is really, really hard. If Iowa made the most sense for his development, he’d probably be there by now. But since the Cubs have two prominent hitting instructors (Davis and Andy Haines) at Wrigley, it sounds as if the team believes keeping Happ in Chicago will give him the best chance to successfully adjust.

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