Gavin Lux Is Changing Dynamics of Dodgers Outfield

While some of the main foundations of the Dodgers’ roster have stayed the same over the course of the 2021 season, there are many that have taken on a new look, including an outfield crew that now features Gavin Lux.

With a healthy AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts, Los Angeles is one step closer to having the original outfield unit it ran onto the field Opening Day. However, based on what’s happening with Cody Bellinger, we might not see the Betts/Bellinger/Pollock unit in full force again until sometime next year.

Nevertheless, all signs are pointing to Chris Taylor being healthy after dealing with a neck injury for several weeks. With Bellinger struggling, throwing Lux into the mix provides a little bit more of punch than having to settle for someone like Luke Raley, Zach Reks or Zach McKinstry.

Matt Beaty is certainly a candidate for starting action, despite skipper Dave Roberts stating several times recently that he prefers Beaty’s bat off the bench, especially in late-game situations.

I guess we’ll never know the adjustments that Lux made during his latest stint in Triple-A, but since he was recalled to the big-league club on September 10, he has been nothing short of remarkable on offense. Over those 12 games, he has slashed .421/.522/.605 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, nine RBI and 10 runs scored. More importantly, his seven walks over that short period suggest he’s showing more discipline in the box.

While the move to try Lux at third base seemingly backfired, having him play in the outfield has paid some dividends. He made a few several decent plays in left field early in the week, but the real web gem came in the fourth inning of Friday’s game when he tracked down a ball hit by Arizona’s Daulton Varsho deep in the center field alley.

What’s interesting is the speculation of Bellinger’s role if or when he returns. It’s probably safe to assume that Raley is optioned back to play for Oklahoma City in the extended Triple-A season, but Bellinger could be used strictly for his defensive prowess if Lux stays hot with the bat.

Initially, it appeared as if Bellinger wouldn’t need much more time than the mandatory 10 days to come back from his broken rib, but the media reports on Friday suggested otherwise.

“It’s progressing, probably not at the pace we would all like,” Roberts said of Bellinger’s injury on Friday. “Progress is a good thing. But I just don’t want to box him in to playing on Tuesday.”

At this stage of the game, it’s probably not critical to have Bellinger in the initial lineup, although his defensive skills are certainly a huge plus late in games.

However, if Lux continues to make highlight reel plays out there in center field, it could change the dynamics of the way Roberts approaches his outfield options for the remainder of the 2021 season.

13 thoughts on “Gavin Lux Is Changing Dynamics of Dodgers Outfield

  1. Lux has found his batting stroke and has speed. Dodgers with Lux, Pollock, Taylor, and Betts have an outfield that can consistently grind out quality at-bats. As you stated Lux has had a high walk rate along with his hitting. It’s all about driving up the pitch count and making contact. Lux showed last night as he gets experience he can play the outfield. Lux’s breakthrough might change the Dodger thinking for 2022 or whatever year they settle the strike.
    Hey! I didn’t mention the guy on IL once!! LOL

  2. I’ve been thinking about Gavin Lux. I truly hope the best for the young man. But, on FanGraphs I pulled out his Sept 2021 stats. His hot streak appears unsustainable. Doesn’t mean he won’t hit well in the future, but he’s had a lot of luck in Sept.

    Versus LH pitchers, sample size is small.

    11 PA 11.1 LD% .625 BABIP

    Versus RH, sample size is small also, but these reflect his Sept success.

    35 PA 31.8 LD% .455 BABIP

    LD is the best kind of hit. His LD% vs RH is unsustainable. Only 7 qualified hitters have LD% >25 over this season.

    League average for BABIP is ~.295. .400 is Ichiro level. The highest BABIP for a qualified hitter this year (Starling Marte) is .375.

    Luck is great, but probably fleeting. I hope someone picks it up if he reverts to his mean.

    I looked up his 2021 stats at OKC. In 22 AB vs LH, his BA was .273 and OPS was .622. So he hadn’t begun to magically rake against LH.

    1. He was really good in the Minors as we know. He is very young 23. Has Lux found the stroke he had in 2018-2019 in Tulsa and OKC? He looks good at the plate and has had good discipline. I thought the one called strikeout the other night where he was upset at the outside pitch he was right the pitch was outside. The inconsistency of the umpires has been insane this year. He certainly looks more like the Lux of the Monors rather than the player earlier this year that was tentative.

      1. Lux of the Monors (laughing) sounds like the title of a historical novel set in Germany.

      2. Lux is a good athlete with good baseball skills and a great hitter in the minors. He came up and couldn’t hit anything ( same as last tear) so pitchers didn’t care. Sent him down and he apparently learned how to hit again. This game is simple. Now he’s a hitting machine and the pitchers will pay attention. Takes a month or so. He can’t hitl low slow, high speed, outside breaking whatever. Baseball is simple, it’s about adjustments. The pitchers will figure it out quickly. He knows what they are doing. If he can adjust, he’ll be okay. If he can’t ( ask McKinnon or bellinger) he’ll be bagging groceries. Right now he’s the reason have stayed in this
        pennant race and we can only hope he can continue for the next few weeks

  3. Exactly Gordon. The pitchers adapt. They find the weakness in a hitter’s approach. The hitter has to be willing and able to continue to adjust. Some players cannot or will not change, you named a couple of guys that have so far been unwilling or unable to adjust.
    Lux has the talent. We shall see if he will continue to evolve. He is 23.
    I look at their minor careers and see if they have consistently made contact and had plate discipline. But you never know until they get to the Majors. I know you do not think Minors players are worth much. But the young man Vargas was brought up to Tulsa this year has made good contact in his short career. He won the AA batting crown this year. And he is around 3 years younger than most of the players at AA. I think he is a very real major leaguer in 2023.

  4. It’s not that I don’t like minor leaguer players, because that’s where all the major leaguers come from including the super stars. What irritates me is the hype about prospects, mostly by the media, who have little knowledge of the game and then repeated by bloggers ad nausium and then get so excited about the players first month or two. Lux has basically done it backwards but we still have to wait a year.

  5. I think Lux in the outfield is a moot point. He will be the full time second baseman next season and the reason is simple. Seager is going to leave via free agency. Turner will move to short. The outfield will be Betts, Bellinger and Pollock. There will be a new outfielder joining them, a fast defensive type like James Outman. Beaty, Reks and Raley will be gone. JT will be the DH, if it is brought back on days he is not at 3rd. They will sign a RH power hitter who can DH and say play 1st. Someone like Cron or Ruf. Kersh and Jansen will get 2 year deals to come back as will Kelly. They will go hard to resign Scherzer, preferably a 3 year deal in the 80 million plus range. McKinstry will become Taylor’s replacement, will strike out a lot less and will gain confidence and pop the more he plays. McKinney will be gone. Pujols will sign a one year deal to retire a Cardinal with his buds, Waino and Molina. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

    1. I agree on Seager. I believe they will fight to keep Taylor. Do the Dodgers believe ZMac will adapt to the way he is being pitched? The Dodgers supposed Center Fielder hasn’t for almost two seasons, some guys will strikeout, pop up, or hit into the shift until they get sent down. To paraphrase Gordon Baseball is a game where the players must constantly adapt, so far Lux adapted. They re-sign Kershaw, Kelly, and Jansen for a couple of years. The Bauer situation will dictate what the Dodgers do with Scherzer. If the Dodgers can not be tied up in the Bauer contract then absolutely they do whatever they can to sign Scherzer. 2022 if it is played at all will be the year Bellinger has to figure it out. I hope he does but I have doubts.
      Dodgers have some promising prospects but they look to be coming in 2023-24. Although they may promote Vargas as he won the batting title at Tulsa this year has hit at every level and can play 1st, 3rd, and the corner outfields. He is a RH bat with potential power.
      We shall see….

      1. Taylor is going to get a huge contract. McKinstry was injured and that played a part in his slide. I have full faith in Bellinger to rebound and some stuff I have read over the last couple of days reinforces that belief. Bauer is going to be suspended, most likely without pay. Scherzer is a must sign. Dodgers prospects are a couple years away at best. Betts needs to be better, this year and next.

  6. Wow. You just spoiled my off-season. Nothing to talk about. It’s settled! The only thing I could question is why sign a fast defensive type when they already have one. How about a third outfielder who ca hit for power?

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