The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Gavin Lux looks to extend Dodgers' Rookie of the Year tradition

Who knows when the MLB season will start, but when it does, one thing fans can look forward to the play of Los Angeles Dodgers rookie second baseman Gavin Lux.  He was last year’s Minor League Player of the Year, which earned him a late-season callup and a spot on the Dodgers’ post-season roster.  With his rookie status still intact, he’ll be among the favorites this season to win National Rookie of the Year honors, which has been somewhat of a tradition in Dodgers’ history.


The Dodgers made a concerted effort over the winter to keep the 22-year-old Lux, who became a target for other major-league teams considering trades with the Dodgers.  Most notably, when the Dodgers made one of the biggest trades of the off-season to acquire superstar Mookie Betts from Boston, Lux was not part of the deal.  The Dodgers gave up its top outfield prospect Alex Verdugo instead.  It was rumored the Dodgers were more willing to give up its established young shortstop Corey Seager than part ways with Lux.  That’s how much they valued Lux.


Lux had been a first-round draft pick out of high school by the Dodgers in 2016.  Two year later he posted a slash line of .324/.399/.514, splitting the season across Class A and AA.  Last season, he improved to .347/.421/.607, along with 26 home runs and 76 RBIs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.


He appeared in 23 games for the Dodgers in September, hitting a couple of home runs and knocking in nine runs.  The Dodgers had enough confidence in his initial showing to put him on their roster for the Division Series with the Washington Nationals.  He hit a pinch-hit home run in his first post-season at-bat.  


Lux was the Number 2 overall prospect in Major League Baseball coming into this spring.  The starting job at second base belonged to him and he was expected to be a big part of the Dodgers’ pursuit of their eighth consecutive NL West Division title.  But then the coronavirus put everything on hold.


The Dodgers franchise has a rich history with the Rookie of the Year Award.  The first time the award was given in 1947, infielder Jackie Robinson was the winner.  Recall this was the year Robinson broke the color barrier in the majors.  It should be noted there was a single award for both the National and American leagues for its first two years.


Between 1949 and 1953, Dodgers players captured the award three additional times:  pitcher Don Newcombe (1949), reliever Joe Black (1952), and infielder Jim Gilliam (1953).  Like Robinson, all three of these players had come from the Negro Leagues and helped Brooklyn become the dominant team in the National League.


The Dodgers ran off a string of four consecutive years of winning the award beginning in 1979 when pitcher Rick Sutcliffe captured the honors.  He was followed by pitcher Steve Howe in 1980, pitcher Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, and second baseman Steve Sax in 1982.


Ten years later, Dodgers’ first baseman Eric Karros won the award, setting off another remarkable streak of Dodger winners:  catcher Mike Piazza in 1993, outfielder Raul Mondesi in 1994, pitcher Hideo Nomo in 1995, and outfielder Todd Hollandsworth in 1996.


If Lux were to win the award this season, it would be the second in three seasons for the Dodgers. First baseman Cody Bellinger put up big offensive numbers in 2017 to win the award.  And the Dodgers system is still deep with other top-rated prospects that could also become future winners following Lux.


Interestingly, Lux has a New Orleans connection.  He is the nephew of Augie Schmidt, who was college baseball’s Golden Spikes winner in 1982 when he was an All-American shortstop at the University of New Orleans.

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