Pederson went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in Saturday's Cactus League game against the Brewers. Pederson is just 2-for-9 to begin spring training, but both of the hits have left the yard. That's pretty much par for the course with the outfielder, who batted just .190 last season but slugged seven home runs in 43 games. Pederson had a .249 average and 36 home runs in his last full season back in 2019. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect a great batting average in 2021, either, but the power should be there in Pederson's first season with the Cubs.
Pederson went 1-for-2 with a walk and a two-run home run in Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Mariners. Pederson hit his first home run of the spring and his first in a Cubs uniform. The 28-year-old outfielder batted cleanup, and he should slot into a prominent lineup spot during the regular season. The Cubs also sound committed to letting Pederson play every day and face lefties, which could help his counting stats but possibly act as a drain on his batting average if he struggles against southpaws.
Pederson said he is eager to take on an everyday role with the Cubs and face more left-handed pitching, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. While in Los Angeles, Pederson rarely faced lefties, registering an average of 54 plate appearances per season against southpaws between 2017 and 2019, and only 10 in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. However, Chicago manager David Ross has indicated that Pederson could play more frequently against lefties. This could help the 28-year-old approach the 151 games he played back in 2015, his second season in the majors.
Chicago manager David Ross said he could use Pederson against both righties and lefties this year, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. "The conviction he had and the belief he had in being good against both sides of pitchers is something that he sold me on," Ross said. "And I thought we had a great opportunity for him." Pederson mainly avoided lefties when he was in Los Angeles, and he has a career .576 OPS against southpaws, compared to an .849 OPS against righties. It sounds like the 28-year-old might not start the year in a platoon situation, but if he struggles against lefties, he could lose some at-bats to Jake Marisnick.
The Cubs are likely to use Ian Happ as their leadoff hitter to begin the season instead of Pederson, Tim Stebbins of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Pederson batted first 249 times during his seven seasons with the Dodgers, but Chicago manager David Ross said he's likely going to stick with Happ, who was the team's primary leadoff hitter last season. Pederson should still play regularly in left field, essentially replacing Kyle Schwarber, and get plenty of opportunities to produce at the plate.