Hap: The Cubs offense is going to surprise some people appeared in the original NBC Sports Chicago
maven Cubs Outfielder Ian Happ spoke with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on MLB Network’s “High Heat” Tuesday, where he discussed the North Siders’ strong finish to 2022 and the heightened expectations the club faces as next season approaches after an active vacation period.
Russo opened the conversation by quickly pointing to the Cubs’ spirited finish to finish the 2022 season, winning 12 of their last 15 games and 18 of their last 30.
Notable moments in that stretch included the Cubs sweeping the then-leading Mets in a four-game series in New York, along with a three-game sweep of the eventual National League champion Phillies at Wrigley Field in September.
After Russo told Wahb about his September blowout from then-Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom, Happ was asked how he feels about the Cubs as they head into the 2023 season.
“We’ve added a lot of guys who’ve been really productive, great leaguers who’ve done a lot of really great things in their careers. Guys who’ve won World Series in different places, guys who’ve been All-Stars, the Gold Glovers are all over the field now,” said Happ. to Russo.
After a record of 74-88, the Cubs deal with Dansby SwansonAnd Jameson TellonAnd Drew Smillie And Cody Bellingeralong with the reported deal with Trey Mancinigiving a signal to many that the Cubs intend to compete for the division.
Happ later stated that the Cubs made a solid punt from late 2022 along with the defensive acumen for off-season possessions before going on offense.
“I think attacking will surprise some people. I’m really excited to play with a group of these players that I’ve played against for a long time, but to be able to share the club, pick their minds, get their experience as well would be a lot of fun,” said Happ.
The Cubs outfielder specifically noted his enthusiasm for playing alongside Cody Bellinger on the field, while praising the defensive prowess of Nico Horner and Dansby Swanson On the field, two gloves are expected to loom large as the shift gets rid of.
Hap looks forward to following up what has been a career year in 2022, which saw the 28-year-old debut All-Star while racking up 61 more hits, 119 OPS+ and a Gold Glove Award.
Cubs and Happ recently avoided arbitration, agreeing to terms of a $10.85 million deal for 2023, the year he signed the old Cubs.
While the Cubs are banking on strong comeback efforts from both the outfield staff and defense in 2023, the North Siders will need to significantly improve with the bat in order to compete for a spot in the postseason.
The Cubs mustered an OPS+ of 96 in 2022, good for 21st in the league and four points among the league average of 100.
Across the board offensively, the Cubs finished in the bottom half of the league in 2022 in several statistical categories, including runs, hits, batting average, home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage.
With both Swanson and Bellinger serving as important offensive additions, solid seasons from Cubs newcomers at the plate could turn into a Cubs showdown.