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Cubs’ Ian Happ’s first Gold Glove representative for 2022 breakout

Ian Happ’s offense takes center stage when discussing his breakout 2022, and for good reason.

His defensive improvement represented a big step forward for him, gaining hardware.

Happ won his first career Gold Glove award on Tuesday, defeating Christian Yelich (Brewers) and David Peralta (Diamondbacks) to take home National League honors in left field.

He is the first Cubs player to win a Gold Glove since Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo (2020), and the fourth outfielder in team history. Dawson and Bob Darnier are the rest.

Happ’s strong finish into 2021 led to the most consistent offensive season of his career in 2022, earning him his first All-Star nod.

But Happ, who had moved around the diamond often early in his career, settled in left field after the 2021 trade deadline and ran with a chance to focus on one position. His season in 2022 was his defensive best as reflected in three key metrics.

— Happ led an NL left fielder with 13 defensive runs, a career-high and second-most in baseball, behind Cleveland’s Stephen Kwan (AL Gold Glove winner on left).

— Happ led all left fielders in Ultimate Zone Rating

— Happ tied for fifth among left fielders in outs average (1)

“He was very clear about what he wanted to be,” manager David Ross said of Happ’s 2022. – hits in his mind and moves left field, a consistent place.

“He used to play a lot in center. It’s probably not his ideal position, but there was a hole there. Now we put him in left field and he owns it and the game. Became one of the best left fielders in

Long before he was with the Cubs, Happ wondered what it would be like to win a Gold Glove Award in the major leagues.

“It’s one of the honors I used to think about as a kid playing shortstop, not as much as left field,” Happ said in early September. “But it would be really cool.”

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