Gavin Lux’s early spring training performance has Dodgers fans divided

Feb 22, 2024; Peoria, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux against the San Diego
Feb 22, 2024; Peoria, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux against the San Diego / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Gavin Lux's return from ACL surgery was cause for immediate relief in some ways. Last year, the Dodgers employed a number of stopgaps at shortstop and second base -- to mixed effect -- after Lux went down with injury. Miguel Rojas was a standout defensively, but both he and Miguel Vargas had difficult years at the plate. Amed Rosario, Kolten Wong, Kiké Hernández, Mookie Betts, and Chris Taylor were among the others to cycle between second and short that year, and all but Betts had sort of underwhelming years.

So, with Betts moving to second and Lux coming back to play shortstop, the Dodgers will at least have some stability, right? Sure, but then you look at Lux's defensive history at short and things get a little more worrisome.

He improved a lot in 2022 after accumulating -5 outs above average in 2021 (1 OAA at shortstop in 2022), but he's always been best at second, where he had 7 OAA over 2021 and 2022.

He hasn't looked fantastic at shortstop during spring training this year, either. His first two chances there resulted in errors, and although he put a stop to a third ball on a nice diving play, his throw to first almost sailed into the dugout. It's already starting to raise a few eyebrows among fans, but Dave Roberts doesn't seemed too concerned. He said he's not paying much attention to the metrics, but rather, "I have two good eyes, or sorta good eyes, that watch every play that’s made. I watch what plays I feel players should make or not make. And as a person who watches every single play, I trust my eyes.”

Gavin Lux, Max Muncy giving Dodgers reasons to worry about the infield?

Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times reflected on both Lux's and Max Muncy's defensive journeys through spring training. Muncy also hasn't been the most dependable third baseman for the Dodgers over the past few years, with a -13 OAA there from 2020-2023, and committed the second-most errors of any third baseman last season. However, as DiGiovanna notes, Muncy has seen defensive improvements in spring, where Lux has continued to stumble.

It's lucky that the Dodgers bench has options like Rojas to turn to in case Lux continues to struggle, but then they'd be trading a bad defender with an okay bat for an above-average defender with a bad bat. The ideal scenario here is for Lux to make strides at shortstop so the Dodgers can get as close to the best of both worlds as possible. If he can't, the Dodgers should definitely check back in on Willy Adames' trade market at the deadline.