Will Gavin Lux Live Up To The Hype?
Gavin Lux became a prospect sensation in 2019, slashing .347/.421/.607 between double and triple-A. Not only did Lux show off his plus hit tool, but he also showed off his plus power and above-average speed. Going from relatively unknown to the top of prospect ranks had many excited about Lux’s future with the Dodgers.
Unfortunately, Lux’s small MLB stints have not lived up to the hype. In 151 plate appearances of sporadic playing time in the Major League, Lux has slashed .210/.278/.377. He failed to earn a spot over Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández in 2020, which was a slight concern for some. The question remains, can Lux be a high-end performer for Fantasy Baseball? Let’s look into his profile.
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Gavin Lux, Future Star In The Making?
Gavin Lux slowly blossomed into the prospect we came to know in 2020. The pedigree has always been there, dating back to Lux’s days as a high schooler. His pedigree led him to be selected in the first round to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 20th overall pick.
Lux began to put things together in 2018, his second full season in the Dodgers organization. Lux showed his hit tool and plate discipline, batting .324 with a .399 on-base percentage. He also hit 15 home runs and stole 13 bases in 2018. After that season, he began to climb prospect rankings but was barely inside most top 100’s.
Then, the 2019 breakout vaulted Lux to the top of prospect rankings after hitting 25 home runs and stealing 10 bases in 523 plate appearances between double and triple-A. Also, his impressive .347/.421/.607 slash line led Lux to make his MLB debut at the end of 2019.
Lux features a plus hit tool that has been graded as a future 70 by some scouts. To find someone with that caliber hit tool is hard to find. Tack on plus raw and game power and above-average speed, and you have a player to dream on for Fantasy Baseball.
Despite not seeing Gavin Lux’s true power in his short stint in the majors (5 home runs in 151 plate appearances), there is no denying it is there. In 2018, Lux began using his legs more in his swing, which in turn led to more fly balls. Naturally, with his stout, athletic build, more of those fly balls began to leave the park. Even though it has not been shown at the Major League level, Lux has the power to hit 25-30 home runs consistently.
Batted Ball Profile
In the Minor League, Gavin Lux showed the ability to hit consistent line drives to all parts of the field. One thing that has hurt Lux in his time with the Dodgers is the inability to do that. Instead of hitting balls to all parts of the field, Lux has predominantly pulled and hit balls up the middle.
His type of batted ball has also hurt him. Lux’s high batting average as a Minor Leaguer was largely thanks to solid line drives hit all over the field. His higher BABIP helped carry a higher batting average. More often than not, line drives turn into base hits.
Lux has seen his ground ball rate increase in his small Major League sample, especially in 2020. His line-drive rate has also dropped, while his fly-ball rate has increased. Ultimately, the sample is so small in his time with the Dodgers that I expect him to get back on track with a more consistent batted ball distribution.
Throughout his time as a prospect in the Dodgers organization, Gavin Lux consistently showed the ability to take walks and limit strikeouts. His 11.2 percent career walk rate and 18.2 percent strikeout rate in the MILB are both impressive numbers.
Fast forward to his 42 game sample with the Dodgers, and Lux has posted an 8.6 percent walk rate to go with a 28.5 percent strikeout rate. It is slightly surprising to see the jump in strikeout rate and decreased walk rate. Part of it could be chalked up to Lux’s inconsistent playing time upon being called up.
Lux has posted low O-Swing rates and solid Contact rates in his time with the Dodgers. His swinging strike was high in his debut in 2019 but trended toward his MILB numbers in 2020. The biggest issue I see in Lux’s profile is his low swing rate. He has posted well below league average swing rates across the board. If Lux wants to live up to the hype as a hitter, he will need to be more aggressive at the plate.
Being a left-handed hitter, Gavin Lux has potential platoon risk. Many look to his breakout 2019 season and see solid production against both right and left-handed pitching. Against RHP in 2019, he slashed .339/.416/.599 in 498 plate appearances between AA, AAA, and the MLB. Against LHP, in 107 plate appearances, Lux slashed .299/.355/.485. Almost all of his power that season came against righties, but he still produced a solid slash line. For this reason, people assumed there was not a platoon risk with Lux.
Flip the page back to 2018; in 90 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Lux slashed .226/.278/.298. Fast forward to his MLB career, and while it is just 23 plate appearances, Lux has just two hits. His MLB career slash against lefties is .091/.130/.227. Again, take the small sample with a grain of salt, but the Dodgers have seemed hesitant to run Lux out against lefties. The platoon risk may be more real than many expect, which leaves me with concerns.
Gavin Lux’s Statcast Data
I remain hopeful for the possibility of statcast data for MILB players. It can be a handy tool when evaluating a hitter. Gavin Lux’s statcast sample is currently small due to his 151 MLB plate appearances, but it is still worth examining. I would be interested to see how Lux’s statcast data in his 2019 MILB breakout stacks up.
Currently, Lux’s statcast numbers have left much to be desired. On 96 batted balls, his career barrel rate is 6.3 percent. His average exit velocity is also just 88 miles-per-hour. On a positive note, Lux’s average launch angle has been consistent and healthy at 13.6 degrees for his career. He has also posted identical hard-hit and sweet spot rates, with both numbers sitting at 33.7 percent.
The sample is small, so I would not be overly concerned about Lux’s statcast data. If the trend continues, we can begin to worry about Gavin Lux and his potential high-end Fantasy impact.
Gavin Lux’s 2021 outlook is quite muddy, given the uncertainty of playing time. Lux, Kiké Hernández, Chris Taylor, and Max Muncy all saw time at second base in 2020. Hernandez, as well as Dodgers’ third basemen Justin Turner, are both free agents this offseason. That eliminates two options in the Dodgers infield that could take a spot. The opportunity is there for Lux to seize playing time in 2021 if he can show his ability in Spring Training.
Many are not sure what to do with Lux for 2021, though. In the #2EarlyMocks, Lux has an ADP of 196.3 in nine drafts. He has a wide range of selections, with a high pick of 147 and a low of 227.
Early Steamer projections have Gavin Lux receiving 399 plate appearances in 2021, which resembles a utility player. His projected slash line for 2021 is .258/.325/.429. Additionally, Steamer projects 13 home runs, six stolen bases, 48 runs, and 49 RBI. At this projection, Lux is considered a risk inside the top 200 picks. There is always the outside chance that Lux takes the second base job and runs with it in 2021, which should lead him to outperform all projections.
In his prime, Gavin Lux has the potential to post a slash line similar to .285/.355/.500. The power is more than there for Lux to hit 25-30 home runs with 10 stolen bases. His slow start in his time with the Dodgers has not led me to drop my long term projection of Lux at all. I still have high hopes and believe he is a future top 50 player for Fantasy Baseball.
Media Credits: Baseball Savant, Fangraphs
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