Cubs: How much can a successful Joc Pederson elevate this team?

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

It’s been a fruitful spring training for new outfielder Joc Pederson. After the departure of longtime left fielder Kyle Schwarber, the Chicago Cubs inked Pederson to a one-year, prove it-type deal to be their new left fielder after a rocky 2020 with the Dodgers. There was some question as to whether Pederson would platoon in left field as he has been notoriously bad against lefties, but after his monster spring, Pederson has earned the right to be the everyday left fielder.

Through 41 at-bats this spring, the longtime Los Angeles slugger is sporting a .366 batting average, .426 on-base percentage and 1.377 OPS. Pederson has also tacked on a league-best seven home runs. Absolutely staggering numbers that are, of course, unsustainable, but Pederson’s presence at the plate this spring should give Cubs fans plenty of reason to be excited for how this lineup may perform with Pederson in the mix.

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Pederson appears to be on the precipice of a massive year, and both he and the lineup will benefit should he prove to truly be the x-factor for the team. He should be able to provide a good amount of coverage for some of the players that can sometimes seem to be rather streaky, such as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, or Javy Baez. Pederson will obviously have some of his own slumps as well, but he’s certainly much less streaky than his predecessor in Schwarber, and should be better equipped to pick up some of the slack when some other contributors are struggling.

There may be some who are somewhat skeptical of a potential breakout season as Pederson went up and down throughout his entire Dodgers tenure, but the outfielder  took a subtle shot at his former club when he insinuated that he felt restricted by all the analytics that went into his development. Pederson did go on to say that he understands analytics and understands that they work, but he feels there should be a fine balance between analytics and simply going out and playing, and that’s what the Cubs are embracing.

The Cubs have embraced letting their outfielders going out and using their athleticism as much as their analytical approach, and it’s paid off in a massive way with Pederson especially. He has looked extremely confident and comfortable this spring, and it’s likely to carry into the regular season.

Can this Cubs lineup finally live up to the hype once again?

Pederson truly has the potential to elevate the lineup to the level fans have been awaiting for years. The lineup has always looked great on paper but has always seemed to come up short of expectations ever since 2016. A successful 2021 from Pederson would make this group lineup downright lethal.

Pederson being even close to as good as he is now should be able to elevate the rest of the lineup. On top of him likely being in a position to drive plenty of runs home, he is going to constantly on the minds of every pitcher he faces. Pitchers are likely going to want to avoid facing Pederson, and are going to try and challenge the rest of the lineup and give them pitches that are much easier to hit. This is something that’s felt missing from the lineup for a good number of years.

Next. Exploring the very limited left-handed options in the pen. dark

Joc Pederson has been an absolute joy to watch this spring and a huge success for the Cubs. This guy has more than earned the right to be able to start every day and will be a huge contributor this season. Whether or not Pederson proves to be the missing piece for the Cubs lineup or not remains to be seen, but the early signs have been more than encouraging.