Welcome to part four of our annual Dodgers season grades series. Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked back, recapped, and graded our boys in blue position by position while identifying areas they can continue to work on next season.
Next position up: shortstop.
WATCH: Did Seager Cost Himself Bigger Offer From LA? Will Lux Live Up to Hype? Dodgers Shortstop Grades!
2021 Grade: B
2020 Grade: A+
For the Dodgers in 2021, the bulk of playing time in the 6 position came from two guys: Corey Seager and Gavin Lux. When healthy, Seager once again showed why he’s the type of player that can go out and get a $350 million contract in free agency. The 27-year-old posted the second highest OPS (.915) of any shortstop in baseball, trailing only Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres (.975). Moreover, he struggled on defense at short — particularly in the first half — leading to questions about his future at the position.
However, the biggest problem once again for Corey was that he missed significant time due to injury.
In this case, it wasn’t quite his fault as he suffered a broken bone in his hand after getting hit by a pitch in May. He missed 65 games recovering from the fracture along with another reported bout with a hamstring issue while on the Injured List. Seager finished the season on a tear, hitting .355 with a 1.009 OPS over his last 58 games.
He put up a stinker of a line in the postseason (.188/.264/.375) and left to sign with the Texas Rangers in the offseason.
Altogether, Corey Seager hit .297 with 104 home runs and 364 runs batted in with Los Angeles while playing in 609 out of a possible 870 regular season games since 2016.
Where can Seager improve?
Try not to think too much about the beaches he left behind in LA for Texas.
2021 Grade: C
2020 Grade: C-
With all the ups and downs and bouncing around Gavin did in 2021, he actually saw his most consistent playing time at shortstop (59 games) while Seager was sidelined with the broken hand. As usual, Lux rode some hot streaks through extended cold streaks with the bat to ultimately hit .230 in games where he started at his natural position. Overall he hit .242 on the year with a .692 OPS.
A hamstring injury sidelined him for about a month just before the return of Seager from the IL. Shortly after he hurt himself, the Dodgers went out and traded for Trea Turner and that blocked both of Gavin’s primary positions at the big league level. With that, the former top prospect was sent back to Triple-A where he spent time playing more third base before reemerging in the big leagues to play mostly outfield.
In September while playing mostly left field and center, Lux put together his best stretch with the Dodgers, hitting .360 with a .967 OPS, albeit in only 17 games. But after injuring himself in a collision with the wall in center field, the hot streak was ultimately short-lived. In the postseason, he got on base well but his lack of a true position cost him playing time.
Where can Lux improve?
Entering his fourth MLB season with playing time, it’s time for the now 24-year-old to go out and prove himself ready for prime time. He’s shown flashes of brilliance and stretches of looking lost at the dish over his big league career thus far. Finding somewhere in the middle will be the biggest key to 2022.
Additionally, finding comfort in utility will be necessary for the Kid from Kenosha. As it stands, his path to playing time may be at second base, but with Chris Taylor returning on a nice 4-year contract, Lux might need to be carrying more gloves in his bag going forward. The Dodgers struggled some to find a Kiké Hernandez replacement in 2021. If Lux can combine with CT3 to reimagine the super utility duo, it’ll be a big first step to Gavin belonging in the bigs.
Undoubtedly, a lot of LA’s success in 2022 will be riding on the shoulders of Gavin Lux.
Best of the Rest
Everyone else who suited up at shortstop in 2021 — Chris Taylor and Trea Turner were covered in the second base grades edition of this series.