Can Cubs' bats wake up and carry their weight this season?

The spring stats are encouraging.

Heading into Saturday's game against the Rockies, the Cubs' offense ranked among Cactus League leaders with 25 home runs and a .359 on-base percentage.

Individually, new left fielder Joc Pederson was first with a .448 batting average, 5 home runs and a 1.583 OPS.

Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ are other projected regulars faring well in exhibition play.

When the games start counting on April 1, can the Cubs keep barreling up baseballs? With a revamped pitching staff, the offense's ability to produce is likely to determine whether the season is successful or not.

"I don't want to underestimate the pitching corps that we have," manager David Ross said. "I think we've got some sneaky good pitchers that maybe aren't on the radar, but there's definitely a willingness to be great from that group. I'm seeing more depth than I thought we had and even sending some of these guys down, there's a lot of talent here on the pitching side."

Zach Davies, Jake Arrieta and Trevor Miller are new starting pitchers, and non-roster invite Shelby Miller is making a strong push to join lone holdover Kyle Hendricks in the rotation.

On paper, that unit doesn't look too great, and the Cubs' multiple bullpen questions start with closer Craig Kimbrel and go from there.

Scoring runs will be key this season if the Cubs hope to make it to the postseason for the sixth time in the last seven years.

"If you look at our team and what our strength should be, I think offense should be our strength," Ross said. "But I also thought that last year and pitching carried the day, carried us to a Central title. So you never know. It's baseball and we'll see how this whole thing shakes out."

Last season, the Cubs finished near the bottom of the National League in batting average (.220), runs scored (265), on-base percentage (.318) and slugging percentage (.387).

Key players like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and former left fielder Kyle Schwarber struggled and the Cubs scored only 1 run in two playoff losses to the Marlins.

New president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said the COVID-19 shortened season skewed all of the offensive numbers, but it was still a disappointing display.

"We just straight-out underperformed last year," Hoyer said. "There's no way around it. Do I believe that group is going to struggle in the same way? I don't. Maybe that's stubbornness, but I have a hard time believing this group of players, with a lot of guys in walk years, is going to struggle that way."

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