Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Heading into the 2021 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers expected Gavin Lux to bounce back and earn the starting job at second base. But ongoing struggles and injuries led Lux to playing a new role by season’s end.
The Dodgers were high on Lux’s talent and made him their starting second baseman coming out of Spring Training, but he got off to a rough start, hitting .179/.213/.250 in April. He was also placed on the 10-day injured list in the middle of the month with right wrist soreness.
Lux was activated near the end of April and appeared to figure some things out upon his return. He hit .286/.346/.490 with a 124 wRC+ during May, however it didn’t last long.
In June, Lux batted .195/.327/.268 and the following month he he hit .214/.298/.310 before going on the IL in late July with a hamstring strain.
Lux was activated for a week in the middle of August and appeared in three games while going 0-for-10, which got him sent back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
“Last year was definitely a grind mentally, physically. It sucked, to be honest,” Lux said. “So 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, and that’s really been the whole mindset.
“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. So that was the whole mindset.”
He spent the time in the Minors working on his swing and increasing his versatility as he learned how to play third base and the outfield.
Lux was recalled on Sept. 10 and truly began to look like the player the Dodgers expected him to be, only this time, mostly playing the outfield.
He hit .360/.467/.500 with four extra-base hits and nine RBI over the final 17 games of the regular season and was active for the postseason.
Lux continued his hot hitting in the playoffs, reaching base five times in 11 plate appearances against the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series.
“Going into the playoffs in 2019, J.T. pulled me aside, and Chase Utley was in there too, and he was just like, ‘Every time you step up in the box try to have that feeling that you’re 4-for-4,” Lux relayed during the NLDS.
“That’s like the best feeling you can have if you’re a hitter. Going up there 4-for-4, there’s no pressure. You feel good. So that’s kind of the best take of advice I’ve gotten from anybody, I think, going into the playoffs.”
Lux ended up starting five games in center field for the Dodgers during the postseason and became a player who looks like an important part of the future despite his struggles through most of the season.
Lux’s 2021 highlight
The highlight of Lux’s season came on May 31 when he hit two home runs against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 9-4 Dodgers win.
It was the second multi-home run game of his career.
He was also responsible for two of the Dodgers’ franchise-record 11 grand slams.
Lux hit his first on May 18 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and five days later clubbed another against the Giants.
Going into this season Lux should compete with Chris Taylor for the primary job at second base with the other likely to a utility role.
If Lux wins the starting job, the Dodgers will hope he can run away with it, but a platoon between the two is also a realistic outcome.
They could also do a hybrid type starting role where whoever isn’t starting at second base that day is their utility player for the day.
Either way, Lux’s showing last September and October proved he is an important piece for the team moving forward and he should receive a plethora of at-bats in 2022, and likely at multiple positions.
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