How High Is Gavin Lux’s Ceiling?

(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

No doubt, the 413-foot bomb that Gavin Lux launched in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s victory was one of the most clutch moments the team has seen in weeks. While there have been a few other bright spots here and there offensively, the Dodgers just might find a way to put together a string of success should more of these huge plays occur in critical moments.

Lux in this role is interesting because he’s probably one of the least expected to perform these types of heroics, especially when considering his start to the 2021 season. Once ranked as the organization’s top prospect, several issues kept him off the big-league diamond last year until late August. When he finally arrived in 2020, he ended up hitting just .175/.246/.349 for the year with three homers over 63 AB in 19 games.

Prior to Tuesday’s opener against the Mariners, Lux was slashing .209/.247/.267 with no homers in 86 AB this year. Undeniably, moments like his go-ahead blast are not just huge for the team, but they’re also paramount in building a player’s confidence. Maybe his home run on Tuesday was one of those confidence builders.

When thinking about the future of Lux, one can’t help but consider what could potentially happen with Corey Seager. If Seager ends up in a different uniform next season, some fans feel that Lux might have a shot at an everyday shortstop role. Should Seager return, perhaps Lux might settle in as the regular second baseman, something the team hasn’t really had since the days of Chase Utley in 2016-17.

However, before we look too far ahead, Lux will most definitely need to prove his value before he’s considered as a long-term solution in the middle infield.

I’m not normally a huge fan of pre-season projections, but I still like to look at them to generate at least an idea as to how a player is perceived by a computer. Entering this year, ZiPS had Lux pegged to hit .246/.304/.446 with 16 doubles, six triples, 17 long balls, and 65 RBI. Those are not overwhelming numbers by any means—especially for a former Rookie of the Year favorite—but I’d bet if you’d ask Dodgers’ management if they’d take that production from Lux by season’s end, the answer would be an astounding “yes.”

The bigger question is whether those types of averages would warrant him everyday playing time over the next several years.

Sometimes, trying to determine if a prospect might be successful in the majors is a complete crapshoot. We see first-round blue chippers who are never able to figure out an MLB slider. Conversely, we see undrafted free agents latch on somewhere only to produce big league careers that last years.

Contrary to popular belief, second base is a crowded spot right now in the Los Angeles organization. Down on the farm, there are guys like Michael Busch, Omar Estevez, and Jacob Amaya who show promise, but none of them have the well-rounded tools of Lux. Busch might be a better all-around hitter, but many feel he’s lacking in the glove and hands department. Estevez is viewed as a potential defensive wizard, but his production at the plate is less than desired, even in the minors.

At the major league level, in addition to Lux’s 23 appearances there, we’ve seen Zach McKinstry, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, and Sheldon Neuse all log time there. Austin Barnes has even made three appearances at the keystone.

The fact that skipper Dave Roberts continues to award Lux the lion’s share of time at second base emphasizes the team’s commitment to giving the youngster an extended opportunity to prove his value. No question, based on the tools we’ve seen, Lux perhaps has the highest ceiling of all the prospective second basemen in the system. Whether he’s able to maximize his tools and potential down the road, though, is an entirely different story.

32 thoughts on “How High Is Gavin Lux’s Ceiling?

  1. To me, Lux has by far the highest ceiling of any of the middle infielders in the system. That doesn’t mean he’ll ever reach his ceiling but if he does, he’ll be an All Star many times over.

    Busch seems to be getting his minor league season off to a good start but I don’t see him getting to L.A. this year. Eventually I think that he, Muncy and JT might all share time at DH and first base. Not sure they’ll ever really want to play Busch at second full time.

    As great a hitter as Seager is, the more I see of his fielding at shortstop, the less inclined I am to offer him a $300+ million dollar contract to stay at short. Somebody will, though, and it seems apparent he wants to stay there.

    On the other hand, I think Bryant could be signed for a lot less, like maybe $200 million and he could spend time in left field, third base, first base and DH. Pollock has been far from a failure in his time here, but he’s hurt again. Someone would take his remaining year off our hands next year if given the right incentive.

    How about this for opening day 2022 (wishful thinking on my part that it would actually start on time):
    Mookie – RF
    Lux – SS
    Bryant – LF
    Bellinger – CF
    Turner – 3B
    Muncy – 1B
    Taylor – 2B
    Smith – C
    Busch/Ruiz/McKinstry/Beaty/Neuse – DH plus bench

  2. I am sure someone will give Seager $300 million. Not convinced it will be the Dodgers. I like Seager offensively but his range is such he is a true defensive liability. I saw one metric where he was ranked 29th among SS defensively!
    How Lux progresses may have an impact on a Seager contract also. I agree that Busch will be helped if there is a DH next year. It will be in any new labor contract.
    Don’t forget Mann at 2nd & Amaya he is also a SS that is coming up. The question is always can any of them hit?
    I liked McKinstry in his short stint before the IL. If he proves to be for real he can take over the Utility roll and Taylor can play 2nd or SS. Isn’t Taylor’s contract up soon? Lux has been very good defensively from what I have seen.

    1. Taylor is a free agent after this season. I think that AF will do what it takes to resign him as he has proven to be extremely valuable to us. He’s making 7.8 mil this year. I would be happy to offer him 3 years/30 mil but have no clue what other teams might offer.

      What do the rest of you think? What would it take to keep CT3 in Dodger Blue? I could be wrong, but I’m assuming that all things being equal, he’d like to stay here.

      People tend to classify him as a utility player, but I would say he’s an every day player who can play multiple positions. To me, a utility player is a guy who usually rides the bench but can fill in wherever he’s needed. Doc has shown that he likes to put Taylor in the lineup every day, it just may not be in the same position.

      1. I think a lot of what happens with next year’s roster might depend on where Kershaw lands. I’m sure Kersh is willing to bend a bit and offer a discount, but the big question is whether Friedman offers him enough without insulting him.

      2. By the time it comes down to negotiating Kershaw may be our only healthy starter. All of the other guys on the roster may have undergone TJ or shoulder surgery by that time. If he’s willing to start 5 times a week, I think AF would have to give him more money.

    1. That’s a shame, but it does explain this year’s performance. Hopefully he’ll come back in good shape next year and resume where he was at in 2020.

    2. Possibly, Rios’ absence might determine whether Friedman pursues an infielder before the trade deadline. Might also show how much confidence he has in either Neuse or Beaty handling third base.

      1. I’m happy with Beaty’s hitting but I would prefer never to play him at third base.
        I don’t mind playing Neuse at third but I’m not happy with his hitting.
        I think we need to get another third baseman. All the more reason to go after Bryant.

      2. Regarding Rios, my question is “What is wrong with the Dodger Medical Staff”? Rios has been struggling since Spring Training. A Torn Labrum hurts it causes inflammation and pain. It also inhibits movement. Why wasn’t this diagnosed earlier? The player was I am sure fighting to keep playing but it’s the medical staff, managers, and coaches that need to see what is going on and get him medical care. Think of all those lost at-bats in games with a player that is impaired. Wish Rios well. Hopefully, he will recover the throw from 3rd is a long one.

      3. It’s interesting. I have mentioned before my daughter is a Physical Therapist and is involved in the sports world treating Professional and Olympic athletes. The Dodger staff has been highly regarded in the past. I will call her to see if she knows if someone left or what the rumors are. Broken bones and torn labrums should be found in a reasonable amount of time. You cannot continue to play and hope they get better.

      4. Tell your daughter to get her resume ready. There may be changes coming and I’m sure the Dodgers pay well.

      5. This is Lux’s make or break year. Give him the at-bats and hope he figures it out. He is young.

      6. Good reading in here today

        In a weird self serving way I’m actually relieved to hear Rios has been playing through an injury. It explains a lot.

        I expect more out of Lux than those projections. Maybe not in the first half but after a couple hundred at bats. I want to see him in there every day. He needs to experience the big leagues and now is the time to get him prepared for October.

        I am not yet a believer in Neuse. Turner is our third baseman and I wouldn’t know how to blend Bryant in there as he’s obviously an every day player but if he’s a target I’m all for it. I don’t see any of our minor league players ready for the pressures of a championship run. Hope I’m wrong about that. Yes Taylor is a utility guy, but he’s also an everyday player. I believe his is a differently defined role on this team.

  3. Predicting how a player will perform is and always will be an iffy proposition. I think that the more he plays, the more comfortable Lux will be. And a few more games like the last few, and his confidence will be building. I do not think they will pursue Bryant. If they go after an infielder at all I think it would be someone who is multi positional and Bryant plays 3rd better than he does anywhere else. I do not want him in the outfield. I want a strong defensive outfield, and Bryant is average at best out there. I think AF makes a strong effort to keep Taylor for at least 3 years. He gets a longer offer from some other team, he will leave. Seager is what he is. And he is prideful enough that changing positions is probably not going to happen as a Dodger. Lindor is off of the market. I do not think there is any way LA offers Seager a deal north of 300 mil. If they want a free agent SS, I go after Story. Better fielder, adds tons of RH pop and speed.

    1. I like Story too. You live in CO what do the reporters think? Will, he will re-sign with the Rockies? I can’t imagine he is happy with Arenado gone and little hope being competitive this decade.

      1. Not a snowballs chance he re-signs with the Rocks. My belief is that they almost have to move him at the deadline. They just get a pick when he walks and the fan base is really going to be pissed. They are mad enough about the small haul for Arenado.

  4. As we are all long-time Dodgers and baseball fans we know how important a good defensive team is and shortstop is one of the keys to that. Seager this year has not displayed the range to play the position, in some metrics he is ranked 14th in others as low as 29th. He will only slow down in the future. His arm looks to be strong enough to play 3rd. Between the two I would consider Story the better choice as he is always ranked in the top 5 defensively.

  5. Lux, good or bad is our future. League seems to have his number, which usually happens after 30/40 games. We’ll know in September almost for sure. If you take him out of the equation we are in trouble. No shortstop, no 2nd base,an aging 3rd base and a problem at first base and no left fielder.⁵wow! . Story is one answer and he is right handed. Dh will help and turner could certainly play first when required. Friedman has a job ahead with no money and many holes to fill so he will keep trotting out these low cost non prospects. Not even sure how he could afford a shortstop and sign kersh. It’s all about Lux.

    1. Several contracts come off the books at the end of 2021. There will be a strike in 2022 and the Players Union is not going to agree to the Team Competitive Tax that now exists. That is the reason everyone predicts an extended strike. Several small market teams have used the current Labor Contract as a way not to stay competitive and simply make more revenue. I believe Seager with Boras will want a Lindor-type contract and will want to play on the East Coast.
      We are all hopeful Lux figures it out and can hit enough to be an everyday player.

    2. Not sure if we’re watching the same Dodgers Gordon. In his last 7 games Muncy has 4 homers, 8 RBI and only one hitless game. Seems to me like he’s pretty much back to normal. And he is now a decent fielding first baseman because they aren’t moving him all over the infield.

      Lux is also improving rather dramatically, having raised his average about 40 points over the past week or so, with 4 multi-hit games and only 2 hitless games out of his last 8. Granted, we won’t be able to see exactly what we have with him until most of the season is finished, but I have high hopes that he’ll become a high producing regular. He’s a good fielder so could easily cover either short or second for us going into next year.

      I’m a big believer in defense so have decided that I’d actually rather have Story than Seager going forward. Not quite the hitter that Corey is but a far superior defender with a lot more speed. And he’ll cost less than Seager will.

      If they re-sign Kershaw it will probably be for less than he’s making now and they also have Kenley and Kelly coming off the books which represents almost 30 million.

      So, I’m not nearly as pessimistic as you are going forward, but only the future will let us know which of us is correct about that.

  6. Was just looking at Muncy over the past 2years rather than 10 days. If he can maintain his OB percentage and hit 25 Homer’s I can live with his 220 average, but I expect a decline. Like I said I think we’ll know about lux by year end. So far his 2 weeks doesn’t reflect his performance the past 2 seasons. 30 mil coming off the books is pretty much what a shortstop will cost so that’s a wash. My point was lux at minimum wage frees up 30 mil . We better hope he works out. It kind.of takes 150 games over 2 years to know what you got.

  7. As Jeff has mentioned quite some time ago, Story will get some draw for his superb defense, but his offense away from Coors is not attractive in the least for a prospective multi-million dollar free agent. In 325 career home games at Coors Field, Story has slashed .304/369/.615 with 86 homers and 247 RBI, translating to a whopping .984 OPS. In 315 career games on the road, he has hit .249/.317/.446 with 52 HR and 149 RBI, equaling a .762 OPS, which is right around MLB average. That’s quite a huge discrepancy.

    1. That huge discrepancy is why Seager will get more money than Story, but I think there have been a number of instance where guys who left Coors did just fine when they didn’t have to play half their games there. Getting used to all the things the ball does in Colorado can really mess with a batter’s approach to hitting when they go back and forth to Coors all the time.

      1. I took a look at career splits in all the ballparks. He wouldn’t have to face Dodger pitching in LA so his better than league average there would likely improve. He clobbers it at Chase and Coors, in fact the only park in the west he doesn’t hit particularly well is SF. I think he would fit right in our lineup.

  8. Oh darn . I forgot about your man Busch. ..oh wait. He cannot hit either. Hehe. Actually I’m depending on your knowledge to be right once again. Actually once. All I actually know is ??

  9. Story while not quite as good at making contact as Seager he is a much better defensive player. What is the added range worth defensively? When you begin to look at his WAR and other advanced stats you see that Story rates higher than Seager. Defense is sometimes underrated. A SS that can cover more ground is valuable. Plus if baseball does something with controlling shifts Story’s defense will be even more valuable.
    The offense in the MLB is in the dumper this year. The culmination of more accurate defensive shifts, NO DH in the NL, Umpires calling erratic strike zones, and pitchers using substances to get more spin on the ball have all contributed to the lack of offense. The MLB should act to get more offense. Some of these games are incredibly boring. I believe they should bring in the DH in the NL. Mandate how many players defensively can be on each side of second base and/or possibly on the grass. Might want to think about changing the ball again.
    I do understand these things will not happen until they fight out a new Players Labor Agreement next year. I would love to see baseball begin to use some type of computer to call balls and strikes. Perhaps like being able to check the 1st or 3rd base umpire for swings the catcher could have a certain amount of requests to ask the plate umpire to check with the system to see if a pitch was in the strike zone. Or a batter might have the chance to ask about a called strike 3. This system might force the umpires to tighten up their “Personal Strike Zones” to fit the actual zone! Baseball has to figure out how to get a more consistent strike zone. The technology is available and the viewers can see how maddeningly inconsistent the umpires are. It affects the game.

    1. dWAR is not underrated by GM’s.

      I had this debate with a group on another site. Story and Seager have both been in the league 6 years. Story has put up 23.4 WAR, Seager 18.2. Who’s the more valuable player?

      Yes on ABS. Just get it done and this sh*t comes to a screeching halt. I heard Kershaw say that square box is not always right. Well it’s a whole lot righter than umpires. There are 92 umps in MLB and you know how many grade out with an A on 2 strike balls and strikes? None. The two strike inaccurate rate is 21.5%. In 2018 there were over 34,000 incorrect calls. I mentioned this the other day and nobody said a word. I think it’s worse this year than ever before. If you’re not going go full ABS at least let managers challenge Strike 3. Other than doing nothing, which they seem to prefer, I think that’s the LEAST you can do.

      Players today are not adjusting to the shift. A base hit is just sitting there for the taking. They don’t want a single. They would rather swing for the fences and pop up or strike out. If they would have pulled this crap with The Mick he would have hit .600 and stole 100 bases.

      1. I have no idea how umpires can be wrong so many times. Even pitch framing is a joke. Shows what the umpire is actually not seeing if he has to watch the catcher to determine where the ball went. They are not wrong 21 percent of the time in the field, judging by appeals. You’re on to something. Allow appeals on balls and strikes. Dont limit the appeals of pitched balls. It would slow down the games so much they’d correct the problem with in the week. Umpires would improve or get fired and the union couldn’t defend the really bad ones. Way to go scoop!
        Moving on i think that if players bunted all the time you’d see a lot less shifts. You could conceivably have the first 2 or 3 batters on base every inning.. With none out. Lol

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