Most other baseball fans of Cubs outfielder Ian Happ’s age grew up watching slugger Barry Bonds hit home runs and the like. Happ wasn’t immune to those offensive displays.
“But I was so obsessed with watching defensive highlights of Omar Vizquel,” Happ said Tuesday, “and having his model glove that was a 9/14[-inch glove], that I had no business wearing.”
Back then, young Ian Happ dreamed of becoming a Gold Glove shortstop, like Vizquel. On Tuesday, Happ claimed the honor in left field, winning over fellow NL left fielders David Peralta and Christian Yelich.
In his first Gold Glove season, Happ led NL left fielders in defensive runs saved (13) according to FanGraphs. With eight outfield assists, he finished behind only the Padres’ Jurickson Profar (10) at the position.
Happ, who came up as a utility player, credited “finding a home” in left field, along with the advice and guidance of Cubs third base and outfield coach Willie Harris, assistant director of major-league data/development Alex Smith and teammate Jason Heyward.
“This kind of completes the package of feeling like you’re a really well-rounded player in this league and have just the ability to impact the baseball on both sides,” said Happ, who was also a first-time All-Star this year.
Happ became the fourth Cubs outfielder to win a Gold Glove, joining Bob Dernier (1984), Andre Dawson (1987, 1988) and Heyward (2016, 2017). He is the first Cubs left fielder to take home the award.