Ian Happ doesn’t even have a starting job, but I’m crazy excited about him. I think he’s the first player I’ve ever written a sleeper post about without a guaranteed starting job. He’s going to lack runs and RBIs, because Joe Maddon is so smart he needs to outwit himself to stay one step of himself. Make sense? It’s not supposed to. Last year, he had 24 HRs, 8 SBs and .253 in only 364 ABs. *fighting urge to prorate* Ugh! I’m not mentally strong enough to avoid the Prorating Monster. Last year, he had 65% of an everyday player’s at-bats, so with a full-time job he would’ve had 32 homers, 11 steals in his rookie year. *eyes roll up in top of head, faints, Giancarlo catches me in his arms, wiping my brow with his handkerchief* “Thank you, Giancarlo. Wait, that’s not your arm you caught me with?” You might be thinking, as a rational person would, that Ian Happ was platooned because of his huge platoon splits. Haha, yeah, no. He’s a switch hitter with no real splits. Also, you might be thinking he is stuck behind someone who absolutely has to play every day. Yeah, nope. He played 145 games last year across five positions. The Cubs are just kinda stacked and Happ played everywhere. Last year, he played the most games at center field. Right now, he’s still projected to see the most time in center. Guess who’s in front of him. Go ahead, I won’t laugh if you say the wrong name. Did you just say Crash Bandicoot? That’s the worst guess I’ve ever heard. In front of Happ is Albert Almora Jr. I’m sorry, Maddon does bonkers shizz, but there’s no way Almora moves Happ to the bench more than a few times a week, and those times Happ can just play another position. So, what can we expect from Ian Happ for 2018 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Member how I said he was a 32/11 guy prorated over the full season? C’mon, of course, you remember, I just said it 19 sentences ago. Well, if you were combine his 26 games in Triple-A last year with his major league line, he would’ve had a 33/10 season. Wow, you’re quick on the uptake, he did hit 9 homers and stole two bases in only 26 Triple-A games. He also hit .298. In the majors, he hit .253 with a 31.2% strikeout rate. That could be a problem, but if I had a dollar for every time a hitter had a decent strikeout rate in the minors, then a poor K-rate in his rookie year only to have a decent strikeout rate his sophomore year, I’d have some dollars. I don’t know exactly how many dollars since Cougs doesn’t let me look at my bank account. Ah, marriage. Steamer is expecting Happ’s K-rate to come down to 27.4% this year, but if you look at his minor league numbers, he has plate discipline. He had a 10.5% walk rate in the 2nd half last year, that would’ve been the 53rd best walk rate in the majors last year. He’s a lot more a .360 OBP guy than the .328 one he was last year. He was only 22 years old when he came up; patience in the majors will come. When you were 23, you couldn’t even control where you peed. I’m reminded of Anthony Rizzo’s 1st season when he had a 30.1% strikeout rate and people wrote him off as a .220 hitter. Yeah, Rizzo now is a .275 hitter with a 13% K-rate. I think Happ can be this good in a few years, and easily better than he was last year, and ‘better than last year’ is huge value for a guy regularly being drafted around 125 overall. For 2018, I’ll give Ian Happ projections of 69/29/77/.261/11 in 466 ABs with a chance for much more. Oh, and yes on Monday, the 2018 fantasy baseball rankings start.