Gavin Lux did not have the best season by a Dodgers player in 2022. However, considering context, expectations, and everything in between, he is my MVP for this particular team.
The former first-round draft pick out of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was nearing Corey Seager levels of prospect hype as he tore through the minors. The rare player graded at a 70 future value on the 20-80 scale by FanGraphs, Lux was a consensus top-five prospect in the major leagues heading into the 2020 season.
The expectation was that Lux would hit the ground running — as Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Joc Pederson did in the previous half-decade — and step right in as the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman. But as we all know it by now, that wasn’t exactly how it happened.
Lux struggled in his first couple of years in the big leagues, and playing for a team competing for World Series titles, even as such a valuable asset, the Dodgers didn’t and frankly couldn’t give him the same leeway to work through these issues, as he would have gotten in the majority of other organizations.
LA Dodgers to lead NL in triples
Between 2019 and 2020, Lux hit just .210/.278/.377 with a 74 wRC+ in 151 plate appearances, and the verdict was still up in the air after a poor 2021 (.242/.328/.364, 90 wRC+), but a couple of things worked in his favor. Lux picked up the ability to play in the outfield in a sort of baptism by fire, and he finished the year on a very strong note, with a .967 OPS in 60 September plate appearances.
Entering 2022, Lux still had a lot to prove. The front office cleared the way for him to do so by dealing AJ Pollock for Craig Kimbrel in spring training, a move that opened up more at-bats for Lux. Chris Taylor would get a more steady dose of playing time in left field, making Lux the primary option at second base.
Lux, who had been working on his swing mechanisms since 2020, committed to a more leveled approach, going against the grain when all we hear about is launch angle and getting the ball in the air.
This change allowed Lux to get a little more time to recognize pitches, specifically breaking balls, and it paid off for the Dodgers’ second baseman. He didn’t light the world on fire, but ultimately wrapped up the year with a 113 wRC+, as a 3-win player according to FanGraphs.
That was great progress, especially given his big league trajectory, and this stabilization as a good complementary player will allow Lux to hold an everyday role, and let his talent flourish long-term.
We still hope to see Lux elevating his game a tier or two, but even if he ultimately settles into something along the lines of what we saw in 2022, he’ll still be a very valuable asset for the Dodgers.
Stats: .276/.346/.399, 113 wRC+, 20 doubles, 7 triples, 6 HR, 7 SB, 2.5 bWAR, 3.0 fWAR
Game of the year
In the June 9 game well-remembered for White Sox manager Tony LaRussa intentionally walking Trea Turner on a 1-2 count, followed by a Max Muncy three-run bomb, Lux was the unsung hero, reaching base in five of his six plate appearances, with a career-high four hits and a walk in an 11-9 Dodgers triumph.
Lux has two years, 114 days of major league service time, with two option years remaining.