Let’s talk about top prospect Gavin Lux for a minute. I’m going to write an article that some may find unfavorable. As a matter of fact there may be some people who read this article and become seriously angry with me, perhaps irate. But I am fine with taking an unfavorable opinion if there might be some truth to it. What if Gavin Lux is a flop?
Allow me to explain here and play some devil’s advocate. Lux is the Dodger’s top position player prospect within the organization. He is the young player that Andrew Friedman and the Dodger’s front office refuses to include in any trade. Friedman is desperately gripping onto him like Rich Hill grips his curveballs. He’s not moving him for anyone, not Mookie Betts, not Francisco Lindor, not David Price, not anyone.
But what if the hype surrounding Lux is a bit overrated? Look, Lux is only 22-years old. He is clearly talented. But is he a superstar in the making? Right now none of us can answer this. Only the future holds the answers. We saw Lux for a brief call-up in 2019 and I have to be honest, he was unimpressive. Don’t get me wrong, he showed flashes of talent, but overall he didn’t produce much.
I know it was in limited action time. Small sample sizes in debut seasons do not make a player. But what I saw last year didn’t really scream Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager or super star in the making. I am sure the youngster will improve with regular playing time, but what if Lux doesn’t live up to his potential? What if Lux doesn’t live up to everyone’s lofty expectations?
Last season Lux tallied 82 plate appearances, slashing .240/.305/.400 with 2 home runs, 9 runs batted in and 24 strikeouts in23 games. He walked only seven times and an 85 OPS+ with seven extra-base hits across 75 at-bats. Those are not particularly impressive numbers.
The left-handed hitter was the Dodger’s 20 overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. He’s had huge expectations placed upon him since the Dodgers selected him in the first round. I tell you though, my eyes weren’t filled with excitement when watching him hit.
Projections don’t paint a great picture for the 2020 season either. Steamers projects Lux to slash .265/.327/.433 with a 101 wRC+ and 8 home runs in 265 plate appearances. Baseball Prospectus’s projections are a little better, (.243/.298/.376 15 home runs) but still below MLB average. In the age of launch angles, home runs, and powerful swings, Lux doesn’t look like he has a particularly powerful swing of his own. As a matter of fact he’s never swatted more than 13 home runs in any of his minor league campaigns and has only hit more than 20 once. He did hit very well in Oklahoma City last season going on to win minor league player of the year honors, (.3921.197 OPS) but there is a big difference between hitting in OKC and hitting at Dodger Stadium against MLB pitching.
What I see from Lux is more of a line-drive table-setting contact hitter. He seems like a top of the lineup hitter at best. That’s fine with me, I think every team needs those guys especially in this modern age of all or nothing sluggers. But that is far from the super star everyone is already touting him to be.
I think the Dodgers should consider trading him now when his value is at the highest. Players like Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, had massive power and produced almost immediately. You could easily tell those guys were going to be all-stars or at least productive MLB regulars. Those guys didn’t post 85 OPS + marks in their first callups.
I am not saying that Lux can’t be that as well. Again he certainly has the potential. But maybe people are putting way too much pressure on the young infielder. I think Lux should get the lion’s share of the time at second base in 2020. The Dodgers need to see what he’s got in order to move forward. Maybe we should set our expectations low with Lux until we see more of him.