It’s been an up-and-down journey for Gavin Lux over the last few seasons.
It’s easy to forget, but Lux was widely considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball just a few seasons ago. Through three professional seasons, Lux has only 144 career games under his belt. He hasn’t even played a full season. Small sample size, but the numbers have been very underwhelming so far.
2020 was a rough year among other things, as he was late to the summer camp and didn’t find a groove during the season. He was left off of LA’s postseason roster during their World Series push.
“It sucked, to be honest,” Lux said.
Lux said 2020 was a grind for him, mentally and physically. With the 2020 season in the rearview mirror, he was focused on the 2021 campaign where he’d enter the season as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman.
Lux struggled to begin the year, and it looked as if his starting spot would slip away from him. When Corey Seager missed time with an injury, Lux slid over to shortstop where he was able to have consistent playing time. However, he still struggled.
A hamstring injury shortly after the All-Star break cost him a month of the season. Then shortly after returning from the injured list, Lux was informed he was being optioned to Triple-A. After earning the starting second baseman job at the beginning of the season, Lux found himself back in the minors. A place he never envisioned returning.
“After I got optioned, my whole mindset was just try to get back here and help the team win and try to make the postseason roster,” he said. “That’s really been the whole mindset.”
Lux took it personally, as he returned to the Dodgers with vengeance upon returning. In his 17 games to finish the season, Lux hit .360 with an OPS of .967. It was easily the best stretch of his big-league career.
“As soon as I got optioned to get back here, just be on base and take good at-bats and just try to make the roster, honestly,” he said. “So that was the whole mindset.”
Not only did he have a great mindset at the plate, he was willing to do whatever it took to see consistent playing time, even if that meant playing in the outfield, a place he had never spent any time in his baseball career.
Over the final month of the season, Lux played every game in one of the three outfield spots. He didn’t spent a single inning in the infield, his natural position. He wanted to find a way to get at bats, so he learned how to play the outfield in order to do so.
“Center field is, definitely a little more comfortable being middle of the field,” Lux said. “Playing second and short, center, I feel like reads off the bat are a little bit better compared to the corners.
“But it’s been a pretty big adjustment. I’ve never really played out there before, so a lot of early work and I got a lot of early work in OKC too. So it’s been a little bit of a grind but it’s been fun. Kind of look at it as like a process almost, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
It has certainly paid off, as Lux’s ability to play the outfield as earned him playing time so far this postseason, including a starting spot in Game 4. His hot bat has carried into the postseason, as he’s been one of LA’s top hitters through five games. Granted, he has only seven plate appearances, but he’s reached base four times. He also should have had the game-tying home run in Game 3, but the wind knocked it down.
“Just basically trying to get on base,” Lux said of his mindset at the plate. “That’s the whole key for me at the bottom is get on base for guys and just try to be a pest and work counts and take your hits when you get them and that’s really been the whole game plan for me.”
Dave Roberts already said Lux will be in the starting lineup for Game 5, he just doesn’t know whether or not he’ll be in center field or left field. Once Lux was optioned, it could have been a lost year for his confidence. Instead, he worked on things at the plate and was willing to play a new position to get himself into the lineup.
I don’t care what his final numbers look like for 2021, this season was a win and a step in the right direction for the 23-year-old.