The name Gavin Lux has been spoken of in reverent terms in prospect circles for years. He’s gained almost mythical status at the top of the prospect pyramid for one of the top teams in the league. Lux was batted back and forth across the country earlier this month in a WE WANT GAVIN FOR MOOKIE mantra from Boston fans, to a NO WAY mantra back from Dodger fans. The Dodgers’ top prospect is a valuable commodity, and he’s taking on practically everyone this spring to find playing time in 2020. Why is he so valuable and what are his paths to playing time? Let’s take a look.
As a 21 year old last year, Lux barreled through AA, AAA and ultimately the major leagues. To whit: 25 Doubles, 8 Triples, 26 Home Runs, 10 Steals, .347 batting average, .421 OBP and a 1.028 OPS over 523 minor league at bats. In a scant 82 at bats in the majors he only hit .240, but showed his power/speed possibilities with 2 Home Runs, 1 Triple, 4 Doubles and 2 Steals. His triples hint at some latent speed, and he did show a slight uptick in steals per at bat once he reached the majors. Put it all together and there are signs of a pre-stealing controversy Jose Altuve here at second base. That is what makes him the Dodgers’ top gun, and why there are so many players with World Series pedigrees feeling a bit queasy.
First up is last year’s starter at second Enrique Hernandez. Kike was all the rage as a utility guy in 2018, and seemed the logical choice in 2019. But he failed to live up to expectations and hurt his hand midway through the year. Then there is the traded to the Angels, in limbo in arbitration, not traded only starts against righties Joc Pederson. Pederson is in the cross-hairs of Andrew Friedman to free up salary. That’s not a good place to be. He will likely be traded eventually, and Lux did play some outfield last September. And speaking of outfield, A.J. Pollock is an injury waiting to happen. Anyone who’s drafted him over the past couple of years has felt that pain. And even though Max Muncy just got a new contract, actions on the field speak loudly. Last September as Muncy was coming back from a broken right wrist he was moved over to 1B to make room for Lux among others at 2B.
And last but not least the man with playing time in his hands is trying his very best to hold Lux down. Well, kind of. When asked about Lux’s playing time at second base Dave Roberts said:
“We still have a long way to go to make that decision, but Gavin is certainly in the conversation….(on his place on the 26-man roster) (He’s) earned it, but has to continue to earn it.”
Roberts went on to compare Lux to Matt Beaty, utility man Matt Beaty. If that’s not trying to stand in his way we don’t know what is. Of course, Lux promptly went 1-2 with a run scored on Sunday, as if to say “Take that Dad!” Lux will not back down, he’s ready to take on Roberts, Andrew Friedman and the front office, even the immortal Matt Beaty.
Gavin Lux is set to continue the long tradition of Dodger Rookie of the Year winners. He has an excellent bat and about 100 paths to playing time in Dave Roberts’ ever changing lineups, even if Roberts’ wants to pigeon hole him. Keep tabs on him in Spring Training to see if in fact he does stick at second base. He might garner multiple position eligibility, increasing his 2020 value that much more.