We’ve reached the point in the 2023 season reviews where we look back at someone who was on the injured list all season, with Gavin Lux. How do we properly chronicle a season in which someone did not play?
If this were a movie, we’d show a montage of Lux on a treadmill or doing agility drills, maybe a few sit ups for some reason, accompanied by music that absolutely has to be from the 1980s. But in lieu of that for Lux, here are some words on his season.
The Dodgers had big plans this year for Lux, who broke out at the plate in 2022 while playing second base. But with Trea Turner following Corey Seager’s lead in signing for at least $300 million to play shortstop elsewhere, Lux was going to move back to his natural position.
Lux moving (back) to shortstop was integral to the Dodgers offseason, the glue that held together a shakier foundation in a season of turnover. But they never got close to seeing that plan in action. In the Dodgers’ third spring training game, and the second for Lux, he singled in the sixth inning against the Padres in Peoria. Later in the inning, running from second base to third, Lux tried to avoid a throw to second and in doing so wrenched his right knee.
He tore the ACL and sprained the LCL in his right knee, and had to be carted off the field. Just like that, Lux’s season was over before it began. Understandably, Lux was crushed.
The Dodgers adjusted on the fly, with Miguel Rojas — who was acquired in January for depth and to be a utility infielder — taking the bulk of the reins at shortstop. He didn’t really hit much, though was much better at the plate in the second half, but was fantastic with the glove.
Rojas started two-thirds of the Dodgers games at shortstop. Chris Taylor was also in the mix, as were trade deadline acquisitions Amed Rosario and Kiké Hernández. Mookie Betts even started 12 times at the position, which he hadn’t played since 2013 in the minors. Luke Williams started three games at shortstop as well.
Counting only their plate appearances while at the position, Dodgers shortstops in 2023 hit .240/.291/.373, ranking 21st in MLB in on-base percentage, 20th in OPS (.664) and slugging percentage, 18th in batting average, 23rd in wRC+ (73), and 23rd in FanGraphs WAR at the position (0.7).
There are still questions as to how Lux will play defensively at shortstop, the position he where played three-quarters of his defensive innings in the minors and started 50 games there in the majors. But he’s a great bet to blow past the offensive production the Dodgers got at shortstop last year.
But we don’t really know how Lux might recover after missing a year of games, so there’s a healthy amount of uncertainty baked into the otherwise optimistic nature of his pending return.
Stats: did not play
Lux has three years, 114 days of major league service time, and is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time. MLB Trade Rumors estimates Lux’s salary in 2024 to be $1.1 million.