At the beginning of every winter, there seem to be conversations galore about which player will hold down the fort at second base for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as there are always new players entering the discussions, from prospects in the organization to free agents to some of the wildest trade candidates across the league.
When Enrique Hernandez was in his heyday in Los Angeles, many thought he would embrace the role of being the regular second baseman. The same concept applied to Chris Taylor on multiple occasions. However, neither really settled in as the everyday option.
Followers of the team need to look back to 2016 to find any solidarity surrounding second base, the year Chase Utley played his first full year in Los Angeles, slashing .252/.319/.396 with 14 long balls over 138 games. That season was the last the Dodgers had any type of consistency relating to playing time at second base.
2017 saw the arrival of Logan Forsythe, and despite a few flashes of strong production, never really got things going with the lumber. Before Utley, there was Howie Kendrick and Dee Gordon, both of whom never cemented themselves as the primary starter at second for more than one full season.
Brian Dozier arrived after the trade deadline in 2018, but he slashed just .182/.300/.350 in 143 AB over 47 games for the rest of the season.
One would need to drift back to a stretch during 2012-13 to find Mark Ellis, who held down the fort for two seasons, despite slugging just 13 homers and 79 RBI in nearly 1000 AB while wearing Dodger Blue.
Before the club decided to bring back veteran Justin Turner over the winter to handle the bulk of the duties at third base, there was a lot of concern for the keystone, especially if the team would have elected to make 26-year-old Edwin Rios the main option at the hot corner. That would have made Los Angeles somewhat vulnerable on defense with the possibility of having two questionable gloves as starters.
Nevertheless, it appears that 23-year-old lefty hitting Gavin Lux will be given the chance to play every day at second base in 2021, at least to begin the season. Skipper Dave Roberts has even gone as far to say that he has no qualms about Lux facing opposing southpaw pitching, eliminating the scenario of a definitive platoon situation.
“I see him getting a good runway to play regularly,” Roberts said recently. “What that means, I think that there’s room for conversations. But him against lefties, I don’t think we’re too concerned about that. He’s always handled them and performed well. It’s really not a handed-ness thing with Gavin.”
Obviously, that could change as the season progresses. Oftentimes, the roster landscape of a team changes dramatically by the time the fall months rolls around.
Regardless, giving Lux the opportunity to play every day shows how much the team values Taylor as a utility man. No question Taylor can hit well enough to be a key contributor on offense. In 2017, he registered a career-high 4.5 bWar and followed that up with a 3.9 mark in 2018—both outstanding figures for somebody who frequently moves around the park on defense.
That’s not to say the Dodgers don’t envision Taylor as a regular player. It’s just that they value him more for his versatility. If healthy, there’s no doubt he’ll get 140 games and 500 AB in 2020.
Anyway, there’s a good chance we’ll see Taylor at the keystone in 2021, if only to spell Lux. And, if Zach McKinstry ends up making the Opening Day roster like many of us think, he might see time at second base, too, particularly in late-game situations when double switching.
Newcomer Sheldon Neuse’s name has been thrown around quite a bit this spring from the utility perspective, but his chances of opening the year on the big-league roster are quite slim, especially if McKinstry secures a spot.
As far as prospects go, the three biggest names to watch right now are Michael Busch, Jacob Amaya, and Omar Estevez, with Busch seemingly having jumped out in front of the pack lately.
Moreover, the perennial conversations of Turner and Max Muncy filling in at second base are probably over. Turner hasn’t seen action there since 2015, as he’s simply not fast enough to cover the required ground. Muncy could play there in a pinch, but the same idea applies from both a range and glove perspective.
Along those same lines, I suppose there’s always the chance that guy wearing No. 50 could slide down into the infield for another cameo appearance at second.
But, for now, we’ll watch Lux with careful eyes to see if the opportunity to play every day lessens the pressures he had from the past when he was the clear favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year.
Both Taylor and McKinstry will be waiting in the wings.
20 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: Exploring the Second Base Possibilities for 2021”
I think I can talk Nick Punto out of retirement should the need arise.
I was just talking about Aaron Miles the other day. On another note, I was flabbergasted over how many times Charley Steiner called Brian Dozier “DJ” during the few times I listed to a radio broadcast in 2018. Being from Central PA, DJ Dozier is practically a household name in these parts. I’m surprised Steiner hasn’t mistaken Pollock for A.J. Green or A.J. Feeley yet. 🙂
I would be willing to send Charlie back to the Yankees if they asked real nicely. He’d probably be fun to hang out with but I’m not a fan of his broadcasting. Actually not a fan of Rick Monday’s either and I’m sure he’s a very nice guy.
Now that I think of it, those guys probably don’t think I’m very talented either.
I’m happy that most of my exposure to Dodger broadcasts is via TV where, although I miss Vin, I’m very happy with Joe.
Seager was a Yankee fan growing up, but even more so a Jeter fan. If the Yanks don’t get him, maybe Kim Ng will convince Jeter it’s time to splurge and go after Corey. After all, Miami isn’t all that far from the Carolinas.
Interesting that Estevez, Amaya and busch are all the same age as lux but not in any discussion except as prospects. All probably just trade chips unless they can blossom this year or they will become career minor leaguers. Mckinstry is actually much older as he blossomed very late and has got a different skill set. But his future is as a part time utility player. As you have pointed out (kind of) in the past 10/15 years we’ve never developed a second or third baseman so lux better work out or we will have another 10 years of journey men at those positions.
The crazy thing about it all is if Seager ends up going elsewhere next year, Lux could wind up playing shortstop, potentially leaving an even bigger void at second base.
You are so right. That will probably happen. Amazing how much is dependent on the sucess of lux who is so far an unproven commodity. ST means almost nothing when analyzing players, but a feel a little (lot) better about lux this year than last. I’m always skeptical about prospects until their second year so I’m really hoping he’s sucessful or a year from now we may be looking,ing for a complete new infield not just 2nd base.
From what I’ve read, the team is very high on Busch and definitely does not consider him a trade chip. Estevez and Amaya possibly because it’s unlikely that either will ever become a starter here.
Keep in mind that Lux was originally a shortstop. If we can’t resign Seager there is a possible scenario which would involve Lux moving to short and Busch becoming the second baseman. I know there were problems with Lux’s throwing last year but I haven’t seen any evidence of that this spring.
That’s the problem with all three of those prospects, though. None of them are very well balanced. Estevez and Amaya are defensive wizards, but are lacking at the plate. Busch is the other way around. Lux seems to have the most well rounded tools of them all. Maybe that’s why he’s here and they’re there.
Thats good to hear Jeff because they usually say ” he’s just a marginal player and we don’t expect to see him on the roster”. A lot hanging on lux as I just said above. I don’t remember them talking about lux and his defensive liabilities or his arm until they moved him to second. Anyone remember?
As far as I know, Lux never had any major issues with his glove, but he did have a touch of “Dee Gordon Syndrome” throwing-wise. Arm strength has never been an issue, as it has always been more accuracy-related. From my own recollections, it’s always been something that comes and goes with Lux.
Do I detect some sarcasm there Gordon? 🙂
Actually it wasn’t only Dodger management who had good things to say about Busch. This is from Baseball America in November:
“Busch earned universal reviews as the top hitter in Arizona. He took high quality at-bats, turned around upper-90s velocity and showed home run power to center field and both gaps. His balance, bat speed, hand-eye coordination and strike-zone discipline all drew high praise. Evaluators were split on Busch’s defense at second base, but he earned consistent grades as a plus hitter with plus power.”
Darn. Here i go again jeff. Baseball America has said that very same thing about dozens ( and dozens) of players over the past 10 years but I forget their names because they are playing in Winnipeg. I apologize Winnipeg. My point is if you’re 23 you’re on the bump, especially when there will be 3 or 4, 26/27 year old career minor leaguers ahead of you on the roster. I respect your baseball knowledge so had to dig.🙃
I respected you Gordon……………………………………..until you said you had respect for my baseball knowledge. 🙂
OK, let’s see how it all plays out. I expect Busch to have a better than average major league career (whatever that means). That career may or may not be here with the Dodgers but I’m thinking it will be, especially with the DH coming by next year. His one drawback is his defense but the DH (or moving him to first base where he has some experience) would solve that.
From what I have seen, he has a very quick bat and considering my (ahem – pauses for effect) extensive baseball knowledge, you simply cannot argue with me. If those 26/27 year old career minor leaguers are ahead of him on the roster by next year, then I will have been wrong about his talent.
I think we need to wait until 2023 to fully analyze this dispute we are having. If it turns out that you are correct, rest assured that I will deny we ever had this conversation.
If I could only find a witness 🙃. But now I know and I will never disagree with you again. And I will never say i told you so , so you’ll have to remember. LoL
Andy and Dennis are probably archiving this as we speak. If I’m wrong, I’ll never live it down.
Question: If Michael doesn’t turn out to be good enough for MLB, will he wind up playing in the Busch Leagues?
Like Winnipeg? LoL
What do you have against Winnipeg? Never been there so I’m not going to argue with you but in elementary school my best friend’s father came from Winnipeg so on his behalf, I’m offended.
Actually I visited there one day. Longest week of my life. Summer is 3rd week in July. But spring is short. They used to have a independent baseball team. Maybe still do. Its actually a very nice city.