Happ: 'Trust the baseball gods' hits will come

April 21st, 2021

CHICAGO -- A hitter will seek confidence boosters when things are not going well in the batter's box. For , he can look to advanced metrics to keep his morale up and feel like everything is going to be alright.

"Whatever makes you feel good," Happ said Wednesday. "That's all part of the game. It's all confidence."

Right now, there is a drastic difference between Happ's actual and expected numbers. That is giving the Cubs' leadoff man the belief that sticking with his current process -- rather than making any dramatic adjustments -- is the best approach.

As one example, Happ cited his expected weighted on-base average, which was at .363 going into Tuesday's game against the Mets. His actual wOBA was .268.

"The expected wOBA, all of the good stuff, looks really good," Happ said. "All the metrics -- fly ball rates, walk rates, hard-hit percentage, barrel percentage -- all that stuff looks really good. So, you've got to trust the process, and trust the baseball gods.

"It's a long season. They're going to be good to me at some point. Maybe sacrifice a few chickens here."

Entering Tuesday, Happ was batting .160 with a .220 slugging percentage through the Cubs' first 16 games. Per Statcast, however, his expected average was .232 and his expected slugging stood at .449. He had a 50% hard-hit rate (up from 48.5% in 2020) and an 11.8% barrel rate (also up from 10.3% in '20).

While David Ross praised Happ's start in terms of hard contact and on-base ability -- the center fielder's 17.5% walk rate ranked sixth among National League batters -- the Cubs manager quickly added there is still work to be done.

"Those expected numbers always make me laugh a little bit," Ross said. "He's hit some balls hard at times with not a lot to show for it. I think he's coming. Do I feel like he's locked in like the version we saw last year? Not quite yet.

"But, I think the great thing about Ian, even when he's in-between or not quite comfortable as he wants to be, he's still taking his walks, he still hits the ball real hard the other way. But I still think Ian's still working on being even a better version of himself than he is right now.”

Driver, Young rejoin Cubs

Bullpen coach Chris Young rejoined the Cubs on Wednesday, following the return of first-base coach Craig Driver one day earlier. Both coaches were cleared since isolating and testing in the wake of positive COVID-19 results on Chicago's last road trip.

"It is really nice to have those guys back," Ross said. "There's a lot of work that the coaching staff puts in, and those guys are big parts of our success. They do a lot of work that nobody gets to see and they're huge pieces to this team."

Ross chuckled when telling how [with Young away from the team] pitcher Alec Mills was reading scouting reports to fellow relievers as they warmed up during Tuesday's game.

"That made me laugh pretty good," Ross said. "Everybody is kind of picking up the slack and has since those guys have been out."

Worth noting

• Ross noted that right-hander is scheduled to be recalled from the alternate training site to start against the Braves on Saturday. Alzolay was optioned on April 14 to remain on a throwing schedule during a stretch in which the Cubs had multiple off-days.

• The Cubs announced Wednesday that 14 of Triple-A Iowa's games will be broadcast on Marquee Sports Network this season. The first televised game will be at 7 p.m. CT on May 6, when the Iowa Cubs host Indianapolis.


"I sat in the parking lot and watched the at-bat on FaceTime and it's just really awesome. Very Zack Short-esque two at-bats today. Working two walks. Great defense -- I saw the diving play. I'm just really excited for him and his family. A lot of long days at the yard, some injuries he's overcome." -- Happ, on former Cubs prospect Zack Short making his MLB debut for Detroit on Wednesday.