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Dodgers plan to give Gavin Lux a ‘runway’ at second base

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Lux last week: “Obviously 2020 was not a great year for me personally, so I have more to prove now.”

National League Division Series Game 1: San Diego Padres v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

One year ago, Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux was rated one of the top four prospects in baseball by MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus, and Baseball America, and was a preseason favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.

It didn’t work out that way.

Lux reported to summer camp late, for undisclosed reasons, and spent the better part of July and August playing catch-up both offensively and in the field. In his 69 major league plate appearances, Lux’s production was not so nice, hitting .175/.246/.349. Though he started against right-handed pitchers down the stretch, Lux was only active during one of four postseason series, used once as a pinch-hitter during the NLDS.

“Obviously 2020 was not a great year for me personally, so I have more to prove now,” Lux told David Vassegh on AM 570 last week. “I’m anxious to start playing. I have a bad taste in my mouth a little bit.”

Because Lux exhausted his rookie status, he is no longer eligible for prospect lists, but even after losing luster there’s plenty to like from the infielder who is still just 23 years old.

Lux batted leadoff in the Dodgers’ spring training home opener on Monday against the Rockies, and had a pair of first-pitch singles and scored once in three at-bats, the second hit driving home a run.

Gavin Lux 2021 projections

Projection BA/OBP/SLG wRC+/DRC+
Projection BA/OBP/SLG wRC+/DRC+
PECOTA .252/.323/.443 105
Steamer .262/.330/.432 102
ZiPS .249/.311/.464 102
Projections from Baseball Prospectus & FanGraphs

Lux also played four innings second base, a position at which he was second on the team in 2020 in both starts (15) and defensive innings (143) during the regular season, trailing only Kiké Hernández, who has since departed to Boston as a free agent.

Given how the Dodgers roster is structured, Lux claiming at least a semi-regular role goes a long way in shoring up the position player depth.

“Giving him a runway to play second base, I think, is a good thing for him, and a good thing for the Dodgers,” manager Dave Roberts said of Lux on Monday. “We have some other guys that can help support, but I do like the idea of Gavin seeing a good bit of time at second base, and potentially shortstop too on days Corey [Seager] might have a day off.”

Runway is a term the Dodgers like to use, especially when providing playing time to young players. They said it for Julio Urías, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin, who comprised 60 percent of a World Series-winning rotation. Runway was used to describe the path for catcher Will Smith, and many others in recent years.

“All he’s known is consistent playing time, and consistent work,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of things going on with his swing as far as timing, and the more consistent he plays bodes better for him in the batters box.”

It’s a reminder that, even with Lux’s struggles last year, there’s a lot to like, and ample time for him to live up to his immense potential.