Friday, March 24 2023

Cubs left fielder Ian Happ named Gold Glove finalist originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

As much as Cubs outfielder Ian Happ impressed offensively during his breakout 2022 season, his defense also was incredibly noteworthy.

And it’s earned him a Gold Glove nomination in left field. Happ was named a finalist Thursday, along with the Diamondbacks’ David Peralta and Brewers’ Christian Yelich.

Happ is the only Cub named a finalist for the award.

Happ, who played all over the diamond his first few seasons, found a home in left field after the 2021 trade deadline and played there almost exclusively in 2022.

All he did was lead the National League with 13 Defensive Runs Saved, by far a career high and second-most in baseball, behind Cleveland’s Steven Kwan.

He finished tied for fifth in Outs Above Average (1).

“He identified what he wanted to be,” Cubs manager David Ross said of Happ’s 2022 breakout during the final week of the season. “Part of that was being consistent, part of that was expanding his game, being versatile. I know a lot of that has to do with getting the at-bats in his mind and moving over the left field, a consistent spot.

“He played center a lot, probably not his ideal position, but we had a hole there. Now we put him in left and he’s owned that and become one of the best left-fielders in the game.”

Ross vouched for Happ as a Gold Glove candidate in early September, after his left fielder made a pair of impressive catches against the Reds.

What would winning the award mean to Happ?

“That’d be really cool,” Happ said after that Sept. 8 game. “We’ve still got a lot of baseball left, and you come to work every day and do your job, and then you look at that stuff at the end of the year.

“But, honestly, that’s one of those honors that I thought about a lot as a kid when I was playing shortstop, not as much as a left fielder. But that would be really cool.”

Gold Glove winners will be announced early in November. Criteria is a combination of coaches/managers votes and SABR’s Defensive Index.

Nico Hoerner, who was not named a finalist at shortstop, was among the NL leaders (no matter the position) in the SABR metric.

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