One of the most fun things about spring training is watching players compete for regular playing time, especially at the positions where there’s still uncertainty. While the Dodgers have plenty of spots on the field that are locked down, there could be one or two that are decided in the final moments leading up to Opening Day.
Seemingly, there’s a chance that former 2016 first-round pick Gavin Lux is absent from the starting lineup on Opening Day in Denver, although the possibility is good that he’s a regular contributor throughout the season.
When the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman last week, the uncertainty around which players would handle specific positions increased significantly, particularly with players like Lux, Max Muncy and Chris Taylor. However, it’s probably safe to assume that the Dodgers will rotate the designated hitter spot based on the handedness of the pitcher, which players need rest and injuries.
For as much as we speculate, injuries can highly impact how a team fields its starting nine. And for as much as the Dodgers rotate players around the diamond, nobody ever really sits for an extended period. For the 24-year-old lefty hitting Lux, it’s critical that he get his fair share of looks, because there’s really not much more he can do in the minor leagues to prove himself.
That said, Lux is far from a proven big leaguer, particularly with a team with higher-than-average standards like the Dodgers.
Most of us hate projections, but at least they give us a good idea what someone else — or a computer — is thinking. Steamer has Lux playing in just 63 major league games this year, slashing .261/.339/.430 with eight homers and 32 RBI. ZiPS, on the other hand, has him playing in 132 games, hitting .243/.318/.414 with 16 bombs and 70 RBI.
As much as we know, either could be accurate; and a lot of it could depend on how hot Lux comes out of the gate with his bat. It’s probably also worth mentioning that Lux still has two options on his contract, so at least the team has roster flexibility if things go sour for him at some point.
Last year was a tale of two seasons for the 6-foot-2 Lux, as he was demoted in late August after producing a .221/.302/.340 slash line over 85 games. However, he finished strong in September, hitting an impressive .367 for the entire month. He even showed his willingness and athleticism by moving all around the field late in the season, playing in new spots like third base, left field and center field.
One of the things to watch with the lefty-hitting Lux is his splits. Many scouts thought he have no problem hitting lefties in the majors, but he still can’t seem to figure them out. As a minor leaguer, they’ve always been evenly split — even last year during his time down in Triple-A he hit .265 against lefties and .273 against righties. However, in the majors, he has a career .168 average against southpaws with a .251 mark against right handers.
I’m one of those fans who thinks Muncy will see significant time at designated hitter, although by no means will he be a regular there. Justin Turner could also benefit from extended time at DH, giving the club the option to take a lefty/righty approach against an opposing starting pitcher. Freeman doesn’t need much time off, but he might even benefit from the occasional DH appearance, as could someone like Chris Taylor, who likely won’t have an everyday playing spot.
At the end of the day, there’s plenty of flexibility for the team to give Lux all the looks he needs to prove himself. The bigger question is whether he has the skills needed for a successful career in the majors.
20 thoughts on “What Lies Ahead for Gavin Lux?”
Based on what you’re showing for Steamer and ZiPS, it looks like the more Lux plays, the worse he does. I suggest they keep him on the roster all year but don’t give him any at bats.
At that rate, he should be a finalist for MVP.
I like the “out-of-the-box” thinking, Jeff. That’s something Andrew Friedman would probably appreciate, too.
You call it “out of the box” thinking. My wife refers to it as “out of your mind” thinking. And, apparently I do quite a bit of it.
Lux is one of the top ten on the team so should get plenty of opportunities. I think 400-450 at bats at a minimum. I think he will show progress with an average in the .275-.280 range as well as an increase in extra base hits. 40-45.
Your wife is a smart lady jeff.
You got that right Gordon. After all, she married me, didn’t she? 🙂
I guess nobody is perfect jeff.
It’s the only mistake she ever made. Just ask her.
Really interesting article in the LA Times. Apparently Kenley wanted to come back and Andrew wanted him back. They just ran out of time because Andrew needed Kenley to wait until they reduced their payroll and the Braves only gave KJ a few hours to decide on their offer. He took the sure thing and signed with the Braves (whom he rooted for as a kid).
Here’s a link to the article: https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-03-20/dodgers-kenley-jansen-explains-why-signed-atlanta-braves
A domino effect of Seager leaving. Seager stays, no Freeman and maybe Kenley still a Dodger. No need for Hudson
I’ll stick one more event at the beginning of that line of dominoes.
If AF doesn’t go get Trea, maybe Seager stays, etc. etc. etc.
Who’s more worthy of a $300 million contract, Seager or Turner? And if that’s a toss up, who would you rather see at shortstop, Turner, Seager or Correa? I leave out Lux as frankly I don’t see him in the picture at 6. It would take a monster year and some slick up the middle fielding to even consider him long term at short. I don’t see it.
I read that Times piece about Jansen and I have some questions about it. Yeah, I think the Dodgers would have welcomed Jansen back but not for $16 million. They already paid him through his prime years and his projections show there will be a decline in his value. He went with the best offer, one that nobody else was giving, and with the team of his youth. He’s with a rival team now so I wish him nothing but mediocrity.
If I recall correctly, the Dodgers were ready to offer Kenley 2 years. I doubt it would have been at an AAV of $16MM, maybe 2 years @$13MM-14MM per year.
If Manfred would have done his job and made a Bauer ruling by now, that might have made all the difference. AF would have known what his obligation to Bauer would be this year or he would have been able to trade him (assuming he had any takers).
Yes, Kenley is not in his prime pitching years anymore, but until mid 2021 he was basically a one-pitch pitcher. After that last melt down of blown saves he got his head straight and decided to be a pitcher with a selection of pitches, not just a cutter. Maybe that was an aberration or maybe it’s a brand new Kenley. Time will tell.
Re: Gavin Lux – OPS .800 and show + defensive metrics. Don’t care BA, don’t care how many home runs. Get on base and slug doubles in both gaps.
Pollock out of today’s game with back soreness according to Roberts. Taylor has not played in the field yet. He had arthroscopic surgery to clean up some things in his elbow. He is on a throwing program and will be in the field soon. Lux at second today and Muncy at third. Buehler makes his first spring appearance tomorrow. So will Freeman.
The signing of Story by Boston will move Kike to the outfield.
He actually played 93 games in CF and 47 at 2B last year but you are right he will likely be nearly exclusively in OF in 2022.
I read it on MLBTR when the signing of Story was posted. Kike can play anywhere and he is a very good center fielder. But Boston also got Bradley Jr. back in a trade with the Brewers, so they have exceptional outfield defense.