Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers plan to enter the 2024 season with Gavin Lux as their starting shortstop, which was also expected to be the case last year if not for his season-ending injury.
Lux missed the entire 2023 season after tearing his ACL and LCL in his right knee during Spring Training. The injury pushed back what would have been a possible breakout season for the young infielder while moving back to his natural position.
The 26-year-old has been regularly working out at Dodger Stadium, taking infield with his surgically repaired knee and preparing himself to regain a foothold on the roster. The Dodgers relied on Miguel Rojas’ incredible defense last year, something that Lux may have an uphill battle replacing.
But Dodgers officials aren’t turned off by what Lux brings to the table defensively after his last stint of significant action at shortstop, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:
The team’s internal reports show that Lux, who had his share of defensive questions in the minors, graded out fine at shortstop when filling in for Corey Seager in 2021.
The Dodgers’ internal reports may be different from the defensive metrics that are publicly available as Lux was one of baseball’s lowest-graded defenders at shortstop in 2021.
Among 34 shortstops with 450 innings played, Lux’s -5 outs above average (OAA) ranked eighth-worst, while his UZR/150 of -9.6 was the fourth-worst. Lux’s zero defensive runs saved (DRS) graded him a neutral defender, the same level as Corey Seager in that category.
Lux isn’t expected to be a defensive expert with much of his upside coming on the offensive end, but he will need to prove to be at least passable at the position, or the Dodgers would need to find an everyday replacement option.
What can Dodgers expect from Gavin Lux?
The Dodgers are likely to focus their efforts on keeping Lux healthy and making sure his knee stays in good shape, which is why Rojas is a necessary piece.
Lux had his best moments in MLB when slotted in the bottom third of the Dodgers lineup, becoming like a second leadoff hitter when turning it over for Mookie Betts. When batting eighth or ninth, Lux posted a 129 wRC+ in 299 plate appearances with a .797 on-base plus slugging.
The Dodgers could also opt to bring him into the mix by way of a platoon scenario, which will only better his odds of being a plus-offensive player. But if Lux intends to play every day, handedness shouldn’t matter for his spot in the lineup, keeping him fresh against both sides.
Lux should provide the Dodgers with another spark plug in the bottom third of the lineup, with the hopes that his speed and burst aren’t impacted by any lingering effects from the knee injury.
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