The Dodgers depth is going to be put to the test, with Gavin Lux out for all of 2023 with a torn ACL. The heir apparent to Corey Seager and Trea Turner, the Dodgers depth at the position has been depleted. There’s a good chance the team goes outside the organization for a replacement. However what if the team stays in-house? There’s a possible clear winner, and it’s not who you would expect:
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Who Could Emerge With Gavin Lux Injured?
It just seems obvious that Rojas will get the first shot to fill the gap. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, that’s not an exciting move. He’s coming off a year where he hit .236 with 6 HR and 9 SB. Even during his “best” season of 2021, he was at .265 with 9 HR and 13 SB. At 34 years old it’s hard to envision things suddenly getting better.
At the end of the day, he’s a short-term fill-in for fantasy owners. Chances are the Dodgers look elsewhere to try and find a solution.
Originally ticketed for a spot in the outfield as part of a platoon, it’s possible the Dodgers instead deploy Taylor at shortstop more often (he’s appeared in as many as 81 games at SS in a season). The team is heavy on left-handed hitting outfielders, with David Peralta locked in along with Jason Heyward fighting for a spot and top prospect James Outman on the cusp. Andy Pages emerging, however, could free Taylor up for the infield (we’ll talk about him more in a bit).
Taylor often is viewed as a platoon player, though last year he failed to impress against any pitcher:
- vs. RHP – .233 / .310 / .396
- vs. LHP – .193 / .289 / .319
While he did have 10 HR and 10 SB, his inability to make contact (18.9% SwStr%) nearly eliminated any value. Couple that with an 87.4 mph average Exit Velocity and an average home run of 398 feet, and the odds of him making a significant impact are low.
Andy Pages (Sleeper to Watch)
While we have significant questions about Taylor, his potential move to SS would open a need for a right-handed hitting outfield. Enter Pages, who was impressive at Double-A in ’22:
.236 (115-487), 26 HR, 80 RBI, 69 R, 6 SB
Obviously, the average is a concern, and it stems more from below-average luck than anything. While he did have a 24.5% strikeout rate, a .271 BABIP is the bigger issue. A fly ball heavy profile (50.4%) is going to help limit his upside. That’s offset by his impressive raw power and great approach. Sure an 11.9% SwStr% could rise, but he also posted a 10.9% walk rate.
In OBP formats he could be a star, and even in AVG with his power .260ish with 30 HR is a believable mark. The fact that he is already on the 40-man roster just adds to the appeal. In other words, if Taylor is needed at SS Pages could ultimately emerge as the big winner.
Yonny Hernandez (Sleeper to Watch)
Hernandez appeared in six games at shortstop for the Rangers in ’21 and does have some experience there in the minors. We’ll have to see if the Dodgers trust him there, but if they do he could become a sleeper source of stolen bases. While there’s no power, he’s shown a strong approach in 194 PA in the Majors:
- SwStr% – 5.1%
- O-Swing% – 22.5%
He had 96 SB between 2018 & 2019 in the minors, and with the bigger bases he could be even better (he has 1 SB this spring). Good plate discipline plus speed? That’s an ideal “second leadoff hitter” at the bottom of the order. The question is going to be whether or not he can handle the position defensively. If he can, he’s a real sleeper for stolen bases that you can pick up for pennies on the dollar. In deeper formats, consider him the ultimate late-round flyer.
Signed to a minor league deal, Williams does have a little bit of experience at SS. Whether the team would trust him full-time at the position is a different question. He does have some speed, as he’s stolen as many as 30 bases in a minor league season (and with the larger bases, he could steal more).
That said, he’s a .240 hitter in 225 AB in the Majors and doesn’t have much power. If he gets some run he could be a cheap source of speed, but that’s about the only value that he brings to the table.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, MLB.com, Baseball Reference
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