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Dodgers: How Patient Can LA Afford to be with Gavin Lux?

With Corey Seager’s pending return, and his continued struggles, Lux could find his playing time greatly reduced



When it comes to developing top prospects into Major League stars, the Dodgers organization has fared pretty well in the last few years. Players like Corey Seager, Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger, Julio Urias, and Will Smith are just some examples of highly touted prospects who have not only lived up to high expectations but in some cases, exceeded them.

Given their success developing young players, it’s easy to see how some might assume every top prospect is going to pan out for the Dodgers. That, of course, is not the case. Many times, even the most talented prospect is going to need time to come into their own and excel at the Major League level.

Gavin Lux has been a prime example of that process this year.

A Brief History

Lux was drafted by the Dodgers in the first round back in 2016. He worked his way up through the minor league system fairly quickly, putting up good numbers as he went along. He had a phenomenal 2019 year, where he batted a combined .347/.421/.607 with a 1.028 OPS over stints in AA and AAA. As he continued to produce, his stock rose, and he was soon not only the Dodgers’ top prospect but a top five prospect in all MLB. Lux was certainly coveted by many teams, but the Dodgers made him close to untouchable in any trade talks as he continued to tear it up in the minors.

Related: What Did Gavin Lux Give Up for His First Home Run Ball?

The club called Lux up for his first time in 2019, and he got 82 plate appearances (PA) that year. He hit .240/.305/.400 with two home runs and got a taste of postseason baseball in the NLDS. With that experience under his belt, many felt that Lux would come into the 2020 season as the starting second baseman. But after a late arrival to training camp, he struggled to get it going and didn’t appear to be “synched-up,” as Dave Roberts put it.

The Dodgers sent him to the alternate training site to continue to work on his swing as the condensed 2020 season began. He eventually made his debut in late August and got 69 PA, slashing .175/.246/.349 on the year. He never hit his stride and ended up getting only one at-bat in the postseason.

Struggles This Year

After a pretty successful spring training, Lux earned the starting second base duties to begin this year. He had a horrid first month, hitting only .179 with two extra base hits in April. He turned things around a bit in May and batted .286 with five home runs, including two grand slams. But since then, his offensive struggles have persisted, and he’s currently hitting .231/.314/.358 on the year. His .672 OPS and 0.44 BB/K rate is the lowest on the team among qualified players.

This year, Lux is swinging at balls outside the strike zone more than he has in his career (28%) which may be a reason why he’s not hitting the ball hard very frequently. His hard hit rate is only 29.6% this year, far lower than his 38.6% and 52.9% marks in 2020 and 2019. In other words, he’s not waiting for his pitch and is chasing way too much.

Another area of concern with Lux this year is his inability to hit left-handed pitching (LHP.) He’s hitting .145/.241/.174 on the year against lefties, and for his career, is now only .132/.216/.187 with a meager .402 OPS. To put that in perspective, Joc Pederson has a career .593 OPS vs LHP (almost 200 points higher than Lux) and the Dodgers wouldn’t let him near a lefty doing his tenure with the team. To put it in more perspective, Clayton Kershaw’s .150 lifetime Avg against LHP is 18 points better than Lux.

To be fair, we are talking about a very young player, who’s still in the middle of his first full season. With that said, Lux does have about a full season’s worth of time under his belt now (454 career PA), and the offensive numbers just haven’t been there yet. There’s still plenty of time for him to improve, but the Dodgers are going to have to decide whether they can afford to let him continue to struggle in the middle of a division race and into the playoffs.

Playing Time Could be Limited

Since Corey Seager went down with a hand injury back in May, Lux has filled in at shortstop and shuffled between there and second base for most of the year. He’s basically been a full-time starter and in the lineup pretty much on a daily basis. His 303 PA on the year is fifth most on the team. That playing time may change, however, as Seager is expected back soon and Lux continues to struggle.

When, or if, the Dodgers ever get fully healthy, you could argue that there’s really no room for Lux in the lineup. At least not as the full-time starter that he’s been throughout the year.

Think about the most ideal Dodgers lineup when everyone is healthy. The batting order may fluctuate a bit depending on your preference, but it may look something like the following:

  • Betts RF
  • Seager SS
  • Turner 3B
  • Muncy 1B
  • Smith C
  • Bellinger CF
  • Taylor 2B
  • Pollock LF

Again, this is assuming everyone is healthy. But if that’s the case, where does Lux fit in? Who would he replace here? Cody Bellinger is struggling mightily so far this year, but it’s hard to imagine that the 2019 MVP won’t eventually get it together and at least move somewhat closer to his normal self offensively. It’s hard to see a realistic scenario where Taylor gets moved to center field to replace Bellinger just to start Lux at second base.

Lux almost certainly won’t start against lefties, but you could argue that he should be in there vs right-handed pitching (RHP) over A.J. Pollock. After all, Pollock has always hit lefties far better than right-handers and has pretty average numbers against righties over his career (.790 OPS). But this year he’s improved, posting a .817 OPS against RHP, which is considerably better than what Lux is doing so far. Pollock is coming off a year where he hit 16 home runs in only 196 AB, and after a slow start this season, he’s caught fire recently. If that type of production continues, it’s unlikely that Lux would replace him in any lineup, regardless of who’s pitching.

Related: AJ Pollock Named National League Player of the Week

So, where does that leave Gavin Lux? Well, for one, no matter what his playing time will look like going forward, he needs to improve offensively. Whatever adjustments that need to be made, need to be made soon. If not, we may be looking at a scenario where Lux is relegated to a bench role down the stretch. And that may not be such a bad thing. Perhaps, less pressure on the young, 23-year-old will benefit him long-term.

The Dodgers have been somewhat spoiled by their prospects over the last few years, with many of them turning into Rookies of the Year, MVPs, All-Stars, and big game postseason pitchers. That’s not always going to happen. Patience is needed with many former top prospects, and to be candid, even then not all of them are going to pan out.

The jury is still out on Lux and will be for some time. Nonetheless, he needs to start improving his case, because the verdict doesn’t look good so far.

NEXT: The Plan Was Not Originally to Draft Almost All Pitchers

Written by Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.

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  1. Its been extremely tough watching Lux this year. He strikes out so much. He has made a few costly errors on defense, while playing shortstop. He absolutely looks like a liability on the team. I hope he sits on the bench where he belongs.

    • Should have given him instead of Verdugo in the Mookie trade, those were the days that everyone wanted him, he could have played second base for them.

  2. Brian, you might have read some of my previous posts concerning Lux. Everything you wrote on this page is all very accurate and basically what my viewpoints are. Dodgers gave Joc regular duty when he first arrived in 2015 but after a couple of years, his inability to compete against LHP ultimately turned him into a platoon player.

  3. They don’t have a lot of choice going forward, unless Busch or Hoese is ready. And look who the free agents are after this season. Pollock, Taylor, Seager and Pujols. We don’t know if any of them are coming back at this point

    • McKinstry is certainly a choice. Sometimes these guys who can play multiple positions get labeled as utility, but 2nd base his his natural position. He was excellent in Spring training, started out the year excellent, took him a while to get his groove back after an injury, then has been excellent again recently. While Lux has a kind of dull, low intensity look on his face most of the time, McKinstry is the opposite. He gives you a good AB almost every time, and even has shown some power and clutch hitting. He has 29 RBIs in 129 ABs, do the math on that. If it wasn’t for Taylor, I’d give him a shot to play every day.

      • I respectfully have to disagree Jackson, Mck. is capable @ 2nd base but not an everyday player. He doesn’t quite have the agility and footwork @ 2nd. His range I see is limited and slow, not smooth on turning the DP in the flips and relay. He’s more suited for 3rd base w/ a strong lower trunk and strong arm. He filled in nicely when JT needed a blow. I can see him more a 3rd baseman w/ a good LH bat.

      • Lux is the guy that had all the hype and hasn’t lived up to it. McKinstry is the guy that a lot of people overlooked, but seized the opportunity to play in the MLB. McKinstry has his head in the game all the time and takes advantage of every opportunity. I like him. He has a lot of positive energy and intensity. I see Lux as trade bait if you want to get a quality SP before the trade deadline for at least 2 years (through 2022). May will not be back to full form until 2023. Nobody knows about Bauer’s situation. Nobody really knows if Kershaw has an issue that could linger or come back in the late season. We need another quality SP, and will have to give up something to get it.

  4. When Lux got hot in May and Seager continued to be on the DL, I thought, Seager is as good as gone in 2022 and Lux is going to be our SS going forward. But it sure seems like if Seager comes back strong from his injury the Dodgers are going to have no choice but to throw bags of money at him or else he’ll be a Yankee in 2022.

  5. It all depends if the Dodgers can resign Seager at decent price, but like other comments here there is so many questions concerning other players on the roster who really knows what is what. With all of that if the Dodgers want to stay competitive they are going to make some really big moves, signings or trades !

  6. At first glance, I was hesitant… but seeing him play…. he’s (looks slow) real fast, needs more polish but shown flashes, snapshots….. be patient, & play him in a defensive spot where he can practice a helluva lot…he’s gonna be very, very good.

  7. Lux”s problems with the bat are almost as bad as Bellinger’s season’s trend of whiffs and sits. With all his physical problems he also is “not synced up”. Lux’s swing has also changed a bit and it looks less compact and more “looping”. Going for the long ball too much? It’s hard to say, but if the Dodgers are concerned about Lux upstairs, the question is would he involved in a trade or is he off the table?

    • You guys notice that all the Dodgers have the same kind of swing? The only exceptions are Muncy and Pollock, yes Pollock if he hits in the strike zone he is awesome. It’s the current hitting coaches teaching these guys the launch swing. Belli, Lux, JT, CT3, and even Betts when his swing changed from a strong top hand. This type of swing is a hit or miss. The timing would have to be perfect on time or else you have more misses and weak slicing pop-ups. If you notice Muncy, Pollock, and @ times Smith have more solid contacts off the bat.

      • Sorry, getting back to Lux….When Seager went down and they gave Lux the runway @ shortstop where he started to turn his career around. He made the plays defensively and came through on offense and eventually moved him up in the order. Remember? Even the thought of Seager losing his job was mentioned by people. But I cautioned I’ll give Lux the runway until the grind of the season and the pressure of playing that demanding position might take a toll on him doing it for the1st time for an extended period. I think that is what’s happening to him currently. He needs to re-group himself and I hope this break will reboot his overall play. If he’s traded I hope the Dodgers get a premium in return because Lux is still young and could develop into a premium player that would come back to beat the Dodgers like some others have done.

  8. Bellinger and Lux can’t hit anybody these days, not just lefties. Both are liabilities with Belli even more so. He’s an auto out unless he accidentally launches a mistake once in a blue moon. Rather have Trevor Story at ss next year, but imagine he’ll be traded any minute now. Corey injuries coupled with Boras tactics not a good combination. Be a bidding war with the Yankees and that porch is inviting

    • Bobby, d, pretty much the case with both Bellinger and Lux at this time. Bellinger is coming off shoulder surgery and a fractured tibia but has looked lethargic of late I’m not sure Dodgers have much of a rapport with Boras so that could hamper things concerning Seager.I wouldn’t mind Story either, but if he is traded, he would be a team rental unless that team can extend him.

      • Hey Paul….as you know the issue with Belli goes back as far as second half of ‘19. The league adjusted to his weaknesses and took advantage last year as well. Now, they seem to have completely figured him out and he’s been completely overmatched.
        He, in turn hasn’t adjusted one bit. Violent uppercut swing strategy playing right into their hands. I could obviously be dead wrong here, but also think his private life may have changed who he was when he first exploded on the scene. He just doesn’t physically look like the same guy to me.

        • That’s correct with Bellinger seemingly unable to make the adjustments right now or so it appears. He appears to be swinging and missing pitches in the zone because swing path is usually underneath the pitches. Bottom line he looks lost and Lux looks lost as well.

  9. Keep him around but he should not be starting period down the stretch and into the playoffs unless they want to get eliminated

  10. This may not be a super popular opinion but there is no way I’m throwing Lux under the bus when Bellinger is no longer viable…period. I would sooner give Lux the patience and benefit of the doubt than sit around and hope Bellinger decides to get his rhythm /swing back.

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