One of the bigger stories from all the trade rumors the Dodgers were involved with was the insistence that they would not trade Gavin Lux. Even when the name of Francisco Lindor was rumored, the Dodgers weren’t going to trade Lux.
Clearly, the Dodgers think very highly of him. Almost every prospect ranking has him as one of the top two to three prospects in baseball. Yet, when he was brought up in September of 2019, he started 19 games but only two against a left-handed starter. The Dodgers clinched the division early yet they pretty much platooned Lux.
Gavin Lux went yard in his first postseason AB. Doesn’t get sweeter than that. ? pic.twitter.com/57NSRwB08i
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) October 4, 2019
For the sake of argument, I am making an assumption that Lux will have a good spring and will break camp with the Dodgers. This article will look at some reasons why the Dodgers should not begin the season by platooning Gavin Lux.
2019 Minor League Numbers
While Gavin Lux started to blossom in 2018 he kicked it up to another level in 2019. He went from being the 82nd ranked prospect after 2018, according to MiLB Pipeline, to the 2nd overall prospect in baseball at the end of 2019.
Let’s look at his splits for the 2019 season at all levels.
As it can be seen in AA he was decent against lefties but the on-base and power numbers aren’t very close to his numbers against righties. In AAA the numbers from both types of pitchers were much closer. Lux only had 12 at-bats in the Major Leagues so the sample size is almost worthless.
The Dodgers have a lot of talent for the 2020 season. One issue with having a lot of talent is the Dodgers want to not let anyone rot on the bench. I have no problem with taking that approach. It has so much talent that it is possible that Gavin Lux could not open the season on the Major League roster if he has a bad Spring Training. However, even if this happens I would anticipate the same issues when he does make the team.
What I fear is that the management of the Dodgers will sacrifice at-bats for Lux against left-handers in the name of keeping everyone active. How the heck would he ever learn to hit lefties if he does not face them? It would be absurd to stunt the growth of the number 2 prospect in baseball in the name of getting everyone more playing time. Even further, in an easy division, why platoon him and stunt his development?
Some Possible Solutions
- It could be that Gavin Lux goes back down to AAA for part of the season.
- The Dodgers could go towards a more traditional lineup. The only place they should platoon is in left field with Joc Pederson and A.J. Pollock.
- Rest Lux once a week without regard to the starting pitcher. The Dodgers should easily win the division and there should not be any urgency to platoon other than left field.
Further thinking about the team leads me to think that there is no reason to continue the moving around of any of the main starters. Here is the initial starting lineup I see on Opening Day.
- C – Will Smith
- 1B – Max Muncy
- 2B – Gavin Lux
- SS – Corey Seager
- 3B – Justin Turner
- LF – Joc Pederson/A.J. Pollock
- CF – Cody Bellinger
- RF – Mookie Betts
The bench would consist of:
- Austin Barnes – C, 2B
- Chris Taylor – 2B, SS, OF
- Kiké Hernandez – Infield/Outfield
- Matt Beaty – 1B, 3B, LF
I would give each starter one game off per week but have them available for pinch-hitting. Will Smith, the catcher will need more days off. I would not have the starters shift around positions. The bench has talented players that should get 1-2 starts per week and enter other games in the later innings as the situation requires.
The Risk Is Low
Giving Gavin Lux a full opportunity to face left-handed pitching is a very low-risk gamble. He is well regarded for his work at the plate.
“He has a real maturity in the batter’s box I don’t think I’ve ever seen from someone that age.” - Andrew Friedman as quoted in the LA Times
With an advanced approach and an increasingly impactful swing, Lux projects as a consensus plus hitter with a chance to approach .300 in his best years and 20 or more home runs per season. - Baseball America
His first Major League home run was off of a lefty, Tanner Scott and the pitch Lux hit was a 99 MPH fastball.
Gavin Lux's first career home run was off a 99.1 mph fastball -- only the fourth time in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008) that a Dodgers player has homered off 99+ mph heat. pic.twitter.com/97n59zHnkA
— David Adler (@_dadler) September 11, 2019
Again, the Dodgers should easily win the division and there should be plenty of room to let Lux deal with the highs and lows of a baseball season. Dealing with various types of pitching is just another aspect of letting Lux develop.
Given that the Dodgers do the right thing and don't platoon Gavin Lux then it is up to him to prove himself. If it gets towards the end of the season and he doesn't hit left-handers well then go ahead and platoon him. Do you recall the Dodgers ended up platooning Cody Bellinger at the end of 2018? Look what Bellinger did in 2019 as he adapted at the plate to lefties. If Lux goes that route then that would be fine.
The Dodgers are a very smart organization and it would not surprise me if the Dodgers play Lux as the full-time second baseman right out of the box in 2020. Really, if they even have a notion of platooning him, then they should have traded him for Lindor. Turning him into a platoon player lowers his current value and his future value to the team. Gavin Lux can be a star so the Dodgers should give him every opportunity to fulfill his potential.