The Dodgers have largely been the best team in baseball this season. However, second base has not been one of their strengths. While they have gotten production from all other spots in the lineup, the platoon at second hasn’t lived up to the expectations coming into the season.
With that in mind, we wanted to see who the fans thought should be seeing the bulk of the playing time for the remainder of the season.
Who should the starting second baseman be for September and the postseason? #Dodgers
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) September 2, 2020
To provide some context for the proposed question, let’s take a look at how each player is currently performing.
It wasn’t long ago that Lux was expected to be the starting second baseman of both present and future, but those conversations have long been forgotten. After a late arrival to summer camp, Lux was too far behind to start the season with the big league club and just didn’t seem to have his timing.
Fast forward to September and Lux has finally been called up, but his appearances haven’t offered much confidence that the issues have been worked out. The simplest way to put it is that he looks scared every time he steps into the box. Dave Roberts alluded to as much during his pre-game press conference Wednesday afternoon when asked about his thoughts on Lux so far.
“I think defensively, he’s been sound, he’s been good. I think in the box… he’s just a little too passive for me — I think that not being afraid to swing and miss, not being agressive.. but he’s working through some things and Gavin will be fine.”
There is still too much talent there to give up on Lux as a prospect, but a shortened season does not allow much time for him to work out his issues. 2021 will more than likely be the chance for him to truly shine but if the Dodgers choose to play him down the stretch, he could end up catching fire just in time for October.
There is no sugar coating it: Hernández has massively underperformed as a hitter this season. Typically a lefty killer, he has done even worse against them this year (.161 BA) than he has against right-handed pitchers (.231). Neither of those averages merit much playing time, but luckily for Kiké, there is more to baseball than just hitting.
One thing is certain, his glove has been his saving grace thus far. The 29-year-old has been an above-average defender at every position he has played. He has a total of 9 defensive runs saved above average (Rdrs), which leads the Dodgers. Out of those 9 extra runs saved, 8 have come at second base which shows his defensive value at the position.
Enrique Hernandez with an impressive web gem. pic.twitter.com/RLBNooaUQR
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) August 15, 2020
By offensive numbers alone, Hernández shouldn’t be playing nearly as much as he currently is. But given his defensive impact and the way that that the rest of the offense has looked, they can afford to keep him there if they so choose.
Taylor is by far the popular fan vote to be the starting second baseman, and for good reason. He has been the most consistent of the three. The 30-year-old is currently hitting at a .252 clip with 9 extra-base hits, 13 RBI, and 17 runs scored, granted that about two-thirds of his at-bats have come against righties. Like Hernández, Chris Taylor is also sporting reverse splits and is essentially two different players depending on who he’s facing. Against right-handed pitchers, he is hitting almost .300, but vs. lefties, the average drops to .194 on the season.
Defensively, Taylor has been solid as well. He has a total of 6 defensive runs saved above average on the season, so he’s no slouch. This combined with his higher offensive numbers gives him a definite edge over the Lux and Hernández for the remainder of the season.
So Who Gets the Starts?
Based on their levels of production so far this season, Chris Taylor is the obvious choice to be the everyday second baseman. But if Dave Roberts is to be believed, Gavin Lux will see the bulk of playing time to close out the season. When asked about the competition at the position among these three players, he was quick to defend the young infielder.
“You know what you have in Kiké and [Chris] Taylor. With Gavin, I think that giving him a runway to play, to play consistently against right-handed pitching I think that he deserves it, he needs it, and we need to see it.”
In other words, the Dodgers feel comfortable enough with their lead in the standings and with their offense to give their rookie some time to learn on the job. This is a low risk/high reward move that could pay off big time in the postseason if Gavin finds a groove to end the season, which makes it worth the risk at this point.
22 games remain in the regular season. 22 games to make an important decision for an important October for the boys in blue.