Dynasty Divorces: Gavin Lux and Alex Bregman
Dynasty Divorces is back for another season! Every year, fantasy baseball outlets release their Top 100 lists. In this series, our rotating collection of authors will highlight players who have been dropping in dynasty rankings and provide relationship advice. Staying involved with a once-highly coveted player too long could lead you to regret not ending things sooner. Splitting too soon may leave you with daydreams of “what could have been” as the player rebounds with a league mate. With each highlighted player, we will look back at the relationship and provide advice on what to do going forward. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
GAVIN LUX, AGE: 24, SECOND BASE, LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Analysis by Chris Knock
Many of us are familiar with Gavin Lux’s quick rise in dynasty rankings. After above-average rookie ball and Low-A campaigns, things started to click offensively for Gavin in 2018. As a 20-year-old that year, he had an identical 147 wRC+ in both High-A and Double-A. And based on this progression, pre-season prospect lists started placing Lux’s name on the back half of many going into the 2019 season. Then it all changed.
2019 brought 26 home runs in 113 MiLB games split between Double-A and Triple-A. Combined between the two levels, Lux’s K-rate was below 20%, his walk rate above 10%, and his OPS over 1.000. There was so much offensive goodness that he received a September call-up to the majors. His 23 games with the Dodgers showed he needed more seasoning. He struck out in almost 30% of at-bats and only slugged .400. But for a 21-year-old getting his toes wet in the majors, a .301 wOBA and 86 wRC+ wasn’t too shabby and was easily ignored after the gaudy MiLB numbers. When the 2020 season finally started, Lux showed up late to Summer Camp and was sent to the alternate site. He eventually appeared in less than 20 games for the Dodgers and performed even worse than in 2019. He struck out in 27% of ABs and hit .175. The few times he did make contact, it was without authority and resulted in only 5 extra-base hits in 69 plate appearances.
Last season Lux made his first Opening Day roster and was initially given consistent at-bats many felt he needed. In his 102 games during the 2021 season, Lux improved his K-rate to 20.3% but the end-of-season batting line was eerily similar to his 2019 and ‘20 cups of coffee – .242/.328/.364, resulting in a wRC+ of 91. His highly rated hitting and power tools all but disappeared in the majors. A hamstring injury may have played some part in the poor production, but Lux didn’t even dominate after a demotion to Triple-A. When he was recalled in August (after the Dodgers traded for Trea Turner to play second base), it was due to MLB roster needs and not exceptional performance.
Since the 2020 season, many analysts feel that Gavin Lux’s 2019 MiLB production was a mirage. That he was a benefactor of the PCL’s “juiced ball”. His statistics in the majors haven’t really done any favors in convincing otherwise. He barreled the ball 3.9% of his batted ball events last year, in the bottom 15% of the league. His launch angle is fine (11.3 degrees) but his AvgEV is in the 61st percentile. His HR/FB ratio of 8.8% says the same thing – Lux just doesn’t hit the ball hard. He also doesn’t hit lefties much at all, batting .188 against LHP with a 54 wRC+.
Lux-urious Diamond or Shiny Charcoal?
So here we are, on the cusp of the 2022 Opening Day (I’m writing this on Monday, April 4th) and the Dodgers recently sent AJ Pollock to the White Sox for Craig Kimbrell. Theoretically, this dominoes into Lux getting the nod at second. But all signs (and his historical stats) are pointing to him being the strong side of a platoon at 2B even still. The Dodgers won’t let Lux flounder for long even in a platoon, they’ll figure out alternatives if he repeats the lack of offensive production in 2022. I would let someone else deal with this drama in 15 team leagues and smaller and divorce.
ALEX BREGMAN, AGE: 28, THIRD BASE, HOUSTON ASTROS
Analysis by Brett Cook
Sometimes you love to be on this list and sometimes you would rather we somehow skimmed over you in our research. This is one of those times where the latter applies. Bregman has dropped on the majority of lists that we track. Just about every site had him dropping double and even triple the spots on their rankings, meaning that if he found himself around 15 on a list in 2021 then he was more than likely found somewhere in the 30 to 45 range (give or take) on the next years rankings. With that in mind we have to look at the details to see if the drop is warranted or not. So let’s take a peak.
One negative that sticks out for Bregman is the huge drop in power. Last year, in an injury riddled season where Bregman played in 91 games, he hit 12 bombs in 400 plate appearances. Compare that to the 31 bombs in 705 plate appearance in 2018 and 41 bombs in 690 plate appearances in 2019 and you can see why Bregman dropped so hard in rankings.
Let’s talk about some other marks against Bregman. First, Bregman’s walk percentage has dropped every year since 2019. Second, Bregman’s isolated power has also dropped each year since 2019, was his career worst in 2021, and has basically dropped in half since that time (.296 to its current .152). Third, his slugging percentage has dropped each year since 2019. Fourth, in the same amount of time mentioned, his wOBA has dropped in every season.
I have said the bad. Now let me give him some credit. Even though his walk percentage has dropped each year since 2019, he still walks over 11% of the time. Another good thing for Bregman is that his sabermetrics show that he slightly improved in not swinging and missing, not chasing pitches out of the strike zone, and not striking out in general.
When you look at some of the other sabermetrics, they begin to tell the rest of the story to me. Bregman has bounced from below league average to slightly above league average in average exit velocity and max exit velocity, as well as hard hit percentage. His barrel percentage has been worse than 70 percent of the league since 2019. The only time it was over 60% was in his 2018 season. What is the story then? His sabermetrics don’t paint the picture of someone with elite power. He puts the ball in play and he will get you a decent on base percentage but don’t bank on the same power he produced in 2018 and 2019.
BREG IS SO REG.
Sorry if that is too blunt and real for you. I just want to help a dynasty baseball owner where I can. Find someone high on Bregman in your league and get as much as you can before his stock continues to drop. I believe that it is only downhill for Bregman as far as dynasty rankings are concerned.
Send us a message on Twitter @dynastydivorces if you have one or both of these guys and you want specific advice on what to do with these players. We will try our best to help you!
Hi Chris, not sure if you have taken a hard look at Cody Bellinger..that would be a future request. Should we be trying to acquire (assuming his stock is low right now)?
Good call, Belli definitely has the makings of a solid breakdown here. Briefly, I’m not out nor do I think he’s the same profile of his MVP season. Depending on league/team context, I’d be happy to buy him at a ‘backend top-100 player’ dynasty price. Early season stats make it seem he could end up around 50 in a best-case scenario. Hope that the delayed answer helps!