Manager Dave Roberts says Dodgers infielders Gavin Lux, Max Muncy passing the eye test

Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

PHOENIX — Dave Roberts doesn’t put much stock in the defensive metrics available on websites such as Fangraphs and Baseball Savant, and not just because the Dodgers have their own internal system to measure how their players are performing in the field.

“The metrics certainly have a place, but I have two good eyes, or sorta good eyes, that watch every play that’s made,” the Dodgers’ manager said. “I watch the pre-pitch [movements of defenders]. 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.”

Those eyes continue to tell Roberts that the left side of his infield, with third baseman Max Muncy and shortstop Gavin Lux, “should be a strength” this season, and at the very least, “it shouldn’t be a detriment, for sure,” he said.

Yet in the numbers could be a cautionary tale.

Muncy committed 16 errors last season, the second most among major league third basemen. He ranked last among 15 qualified third basemen with a .944 fielding percentage and 12th with a minus-3 defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs. He ranked 33rd of 36 third basemen with minus-8 outs above average, according to Baseball Savant.

Lux sat out the 2023 season because of torn ligaments in his right knee and has started only 50 big league games at shortstop, all in place of injured Corey Seager in 2021. He committed seven errors in 471 innings at the position that season and accrued minus-5 outs above average, according to Baseball Savant.


“I wouldn’t say worried,” Roberts said, when asked how concerned he was about his left-side infield defense entering spring training. “Looking at Max, I’ve seen it better, and it needs to get better. I always say it’s easy to bet on certain people, and I feel confident [his defense] will get back to what it was [in 2022].

“With Gavin, the No. 1 thing is you want him to be healthy, and from everything we’ve seen and heard, he is. Now, we’ve just got to get back to playing mode and compete mode. We’ve got to understand that it takes time to get back up to major league speed, and we feel that once the bell rings, he’ll be right where he needs to be.”

Three weeks into camp, Muncy has clearly made strides on defense, while Lux has stumbled out of the gate.

Lux bounced his first Cactus League throw past first base for an error against the Texas Rangers last Wednesday. He bobbled the second grounder hit to him and threw late and low to first base for another error against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.


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