Gavin Lux has waited a long time to be named the Dodgers' starting shortstop since the time when he first emerged as an upper-echelon prospect.
In reality, though, the wait for Lux to break through has been much longer; he's dreamed of reaching the top of the Dodgers' shortstop depth chart for his entire life.
Lux, a first-rounder in 2016 and one of the game's top prospects during the intervening years, learned firsthand that while it's difficult to break into the big leagues, it's even tougher to break into the Dodgers' starting lineup. This is a team built for titles every single year. They probably already have an All-Star playing your position, and if they don't, they're going to craft one out of someone else's washed-up veteran like Justin Turner. To grab a starting role, you're really going to have to earn it -- and you might have to wait for the last generation's top prospect to snag a $300 million deal somewhere else.
After a 2.5 bWAR season in 2022, representing a modest breakout, the 25-year-old Lux was poised to finally step to the plate as the Dodgers' starting shortstop this season, backed up only by veteran utility player and defensive whiz Miguel Rojas, in case things went sideways.
One misstep later, though, and Lux will miss the 2023 season -- and a golden opportunity -- with a torn right ACL and LCL. He fully comprehended the gravity of the situation in his first public interview after the news broke, holding back tears while describing what he'd lost.
Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux holds back tears while describing injury
Lux's broken heart stems from just how hard he worked to reach this point, with these teammates, in this city. After years of putting in the work and being unable to find the spotlight, 2023 was supposed to be the year they would all turn to him. Who doesn't want to be the one in charge of making sure the next generation lives up to expectations?
Now, when Lux returns, he'll be starting from a lower position on the pyramid, if not completely from scratch. The world always turns. The Dodgers, specifically, preach sustainability and sure things. If Lux is 26 years old, coming off a major injury, and without a shortstop's resume to his name, the team could easily look elsewhere during a massive 2023-24 offseason.
Top prospect Michael Busch could finally get a chance to crack the infield picture this season, stealing a bit of Lux's thunder after previously feeling his frustration.
The Dodgers craft talent in a seemingly endless pipeline, and when Lux returns, he'll be encountering a different landscape. Hopefully, for his sake, his body will be ready to give him a fair shake in a year's time.