Free agency is always an exciting time as we see superstars either switch teams (like Trea Turner and all the other big-name shortstops) or dramatically stay with their previous teams (Aaron Judge, I’m looking at you). But another intriguing aspect of free agency is see what teams do after they lose a free agent.
In that vein, MLB.com put out an article about eight players who need to step up in 2023 because they’re filling a hole internally that wasn’t filled externally. Not surprisingly, Gavin Lux — who would be the Dodgers’ starting shortstop if the season started today — is on the list.
For the second straight offseason, the Dodgers have to replace a departed free-agent shortstop. But unlike 2022, when they had the luxury of replacing Corey Seager with another All-Star in Trea Turner, their solution isn’t obvious heading into 2023. Lux could be the guy if he fulfills the promise he showed while ascending the ranks to become MLB’s No. 1 overall prospect. The 25-year-old made strides at the plate last season, recording a career-high 105 OPS+, but he also hit just six homers and slugged .399 (including .354 vs. left-handed pitchers) over 471 plate appearances.
In my opinion, all the people focusing on Lux’s overall numbers are overlooking the fact that he was injured the last six weeks of the season. From the start of the season through August 22 — he first missed time with his neck injury on August 23 — Lux batted .298/.373/.439 for an OPS of .812. That’s an OPS+ around 122, which would be outstanding for a shortstop. Only Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Bo Bichette, and Francisco Lindor hit better last year among MLB shortstops.
Lux also hit just fine against lefties before the injury, with a .763 OPS and a 121 wRC+ against southpaws through August 22.
Does Lux need to step up in Turner’s absence? Absolutely. But his chances of doing so are a lot better than this article gives him credit for.
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