Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Max Muncy in 2019?

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(Getty Images photo)

In addition to hot stove talk and reruns of old games, MLB Network fills its offseason programming with Top Ten rankings of position players and pitchers. Most recently, it revealed its 10 best starting pitchers. Clayton Kershaw came in at number 10 on the list, and he was chosen as one the best pitchers of the last decade.

What was interesting to me was the first baseman rankings. Max Muncy came in at number four on the list, behind Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman and Joey Votto. Muncy burst back on the Major League scene in 2018, after having played only 107 games in 2015-16 with the Oakland Athletics, and none at all in 2017.

After being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 17th, he saw 84 games at first base for the Dodgers, basically replacing Cody Bellinger who spent most of the 2017 season at first, and who moved to the outfield for the majority of 2018.

With the Dodgers’ current roster construct, Bellinger may again be called upon to spend most of his games in the outfield. And if Muncy produces like he did last season, he will once again see the majority of his playing time at first. Muncy had a 4.8 WAR, a slash line of .263/.391/.582/.973 with 35 homers and 17 doubles.

But as Dodger fans know, the brass love players that can play at multiple positions. The team currently does not have a regular starter at second base. In 2017, Muncy played 38 at third, 13 at second, six in left and one at DH. Manager Dave Roberts has mentioned that Muncy will be in the discussion of who will man the keystone. Muncy played 159 innings at second base for Oakland in 2016.

To be in the lineup every day, as mentioned above, Muncy will have to perform like he did last season. Overall, Muncy hit left-handers fairly well, facing them 119 times and batting .255/.361/.529. His issues came in the second half of the season, when his production saw a downhill slide against both righty and lefty pitching.

The key to Muncy replicating his 2018 complain is to maintain his patience at the plate. Muncy saw more pitches per plate appearance than most in the league, walking in 16.4% of his at-bats. One will also wonder what the Dodgers’ new hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc, will see in Muncy to help him maintain and possibly improve.

I think that overall, Muncy will be as good as he was last year, maybe with some slight regression. I also think first base will be his home, and second will be left to the duo of Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez. (Taylor was ranked as the fifth best second baseman by MLB Network).

Regardless, Dieter Ruehle will be regaling us with strains of “That Funky Monkey” all season long.

 

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46 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Max Muncy in 2019?

  1. As much as we complain about the Dodgers not making moves I think it’s prudent to realize how spoiled we are. Just about every team in MLB would kill to have our roster. I think Muncy is the key to the season. If his bat turns back into a pumpkin it will have a domino effect on the entire team. I have some faith though because Muncy is a true pro in the batters box. He has a good eye for strikes and pure swing. He may not hit 40HR but if he can hit .260 with some pop we will be just fine at 1B.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll go in between what Andy believes, Muncy overall will be as good as he was last year, .973 OPS, and what Steamer projects, .779 OPS. RotoChamp says 32 home runs, most sites have him in the mid to high 20s. The Composite sounds about right to me.246/.363/.491 for an OPS of .854, 27 home runs. I’d take the under on that slash line but not by much. Muncy is not an every day player. Not because he isn’t good enough but I don’t believe Roberts will use him that way and I don’t believe he has the stamina required to go out often enough to put up 600 at bats.

      About teams being willing to kill for our roster, I believe most teams wish they could afford our payroll but if they had $200 million, they’d pick different players at many positions. Yeah, we’ve been good for several years running. We haven’t been great yet.

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  2. I wonder how many out there really think Muncy is going to be anywhere near what he was last year. And I am not in on him playing 1st a majority of the time. As I have said more than once, he is barely adequate at 1st. I would much rather see Bellinger there full time. But the way they platoon players I know that is a pipe dream on my part. Just like i am pretty sure they will not have regulars except at 3rd, Turner, SS, Seager and CF, Pollock. I think everywhere else it is going to depend on who is pitching. Muncy hit .263 last year….he is a career .239 hitter. But with a small sample size. I think he can hit .260, but I also think the power that he displayed last year will go down. He is not going to be a surprise this year, and since you can look at what happened to Bellinger and Taylor that some sort of drop off is coming. If he were to match last years totals, I would be very surprised. How many are tired of the Machado-Harper-Realmuto circus act?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s the point with this team. There are question marks everywhere this season. Only time will tell if we have a bunch of one year wonders or if we develop some consistently good players. And it might help this year if we improve on our clutch hitting with men on base!

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  4. And if we play Muncy at first then Verdugo or Pederson sits. I’d rather Muncy at second versus right handed pitching so we get both JOC and Verdugo ninnlineup

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  5. Is Max Muncy a Gold Glove fielder, at any position? I think I speak for all of us when I say “No.” However, whether he winds up playing at first or second or both, he may very well improve over what we seem to feel is a less than average fielding performance. A major league team plays approximately 1500 innings in a season (playoffs not included). Over the past four seasons combined (including last year here, plus his time with the A’s plus all of his time in the minors) he played less than 1000 innings at first base and less than 200 at second base. They have moved him all over the diamond, including time at third and the outfield and that’s a lot to ask of a player who is in the lineup mainly for his offense. He can get better with reps, so assuming he doesn’t have too bad a relapse at the plate next year, he’ll definitely be worth playing somewhere and we may just be surprised to see that his performance in the field is at least average if not a bit better.

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    1. Muncy just may surprise all the experts and have a tremendous season this year. After that, it’s all downhill….how old is the guy?

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  6. Against right handed pitching:

    Pollock cf
    Seager as
    Turner 3b
    Bellinger 1b
    Muncy 2b
    Pederson of
    Verdugo rf
    Barnes c

    Left handed pitching

    Pollock cf
    Seager S
    Turner 3b
    Bellinger rf
    Freeze/Muncy 1b
    Hernandez 2b
    Taylor lf
    Martin c

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  7. If it’s me, I’m not platooning with this group. With this depth I would mix it up and rest everybody over the course of the long year but my starting team includes Muncy at first, Taylor/Hernandez at second (whoever wins it in ST) and Bellinger in right. Verdugo or Pederson in left. We have 4 starting outfielders and 3 of them are left handed. That doesn’t even include Toles. Our utility guy is Taylonandez, with Freese backing them up. This is a strange collection of players so I’m still of a mind that something else is coming before Opening Day.

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  8. I’m in the scoop camp, I think that’s the way Roberts will play them most of the time. With the three lefties in left, I was thinking someone still may be on the move also.

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  9. I do not want Muncy at 1st. I also do not want Bellinger out there in RF. If he is going to play the outfield at all, either CF or LF. Muncy made more errors at 3rd than any other position and he was pretty bad at 1st. He is no Bellinger over there for sure, and with this pitching staff, you need your best defenders out there most of the time. And unlike most every one who posts here and on other sites, I do not think Muncy comes anywhere near his numbers from last year. I think the whole year was a fluke. I do expect Bellinger and Taylor to rebound some. Von Scoyoc had better be good at what he does, or I expect regression from some of the guys.

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  10. I dont know bear. I think Muncy has a nice swing and a good eye. He may have played a bit over his head last year but I wouldn’t call it a fluke. I think he regresses a bit but I still think his OPS is close to .850. Lots of unanswered questions with this team. It will be an interesting year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I get it. I know all of you guys have a lot of faith in Muncy. I just cannot forget his first taste of MLB with the A’s. Is he that guy, or what we saw last year? Projections to me are worthless. I do not think any of that has anything to do with how a player does from one year to the next. They were wrong with Taylor, and wrong with Bellinger. I think the pitchers will adjust to what he did last year. I also think he is not that athletic, and he does not really cover enough ground to play 1st and get to those throws in the dirt anywhere near as good as Bellinger does. You are right about the unanswered questions that’s for sure. I dislike platoons and always have, but unfortunately for me, that is the way Friedman and Roberts run the team.

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      1. If he is “not athletic” enough to play first base he sure as hell is not athletic enough to play second.

        Projections are more accurate than you might think they are. If I remember correctly, only James expected Bellinger to repeat his gaudy ROY numbers. And none of them are currently projecting Muncy to OPS .973 again. One, Steamer, has him with 23 home runs and a slash line of .236/.342/.437. That’s an OPS of .779. We all hope they are wrong, but I think it’s a certainty he won’t OPS .973. Bellinger is projected with 28 home runs and an .850 OPS. Sounds about right to me. Taylor projected with an OPS of .780, also about right. Projections also have the team with 93 wins. What do you think Bear?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What I think is not important. Everyone has their own opinions and I respect everyone’s I just tend to believe that after a players 1st full year in the majors, there is a drop off. I do not believe Muncy will be any different. Projections are just that. They are not facts. For the Dodgers to get to 93 wins I think an awful lot has to go exactly right. A hiccup here or there and the whole thing can reverse itself. And explain to me why Muncy is considered better at 1st, and he obviously has played more there both in the minors and the majors, when his stats say he is better at second? He has made far fewer errors playing 2nd than 1st or 3rd. But you guys think what you want. I want a scoop and catch guy at first, especially with Seager coming back from his shoulder problems. Belli is that kind of 1st baseman. Muncy is not. I do not want to see Bellinger in the outfield. As I said before, his only injury in the majors came when he was playing RF. Maybe he excels out there who knows, but I want the best glove at every position and Muncy is not the best glove.

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      3. Muncy’s “first taste of MLB with the A’s” was about 200 at bats, hardly a career defining sample. It’s possible that he flames out completely and is gone from MLB by July and yes, Bellinger and Taylor regressed from their excellent first seasons. What I’d like to know is why no one has mentioned Turner. His OPS while with the Mets was about .700. He refined his swing in the winter before he got here and his OPS with the Dodgers is about .900. I would say that I would place my bet on Muncy’s being a productive regular for a number of years here. Steve suggested that he might have one good year left in him and then it was all downhill from there. Turner will be playing his age 34 year this year. Muncy is 28. He absolutely needs to show that he can continue to produce for us, but I can’t quite figure out why so many of you are ready to give up on him before the season has even started.

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  11. Until further notice:

    Projected Lineup

    1. CF A.J. Pollock
    2. SS Corey Seager
    3. 3B Justin Turner
    4. RF Cody Bellinger
    5. 1B Max Muncy/David Freese
    6. 2B Chris Taylor
    7. LF Alex Verdugo/Enrique Hernandez
    8. C Russell Martin/Austin Barnes

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  12. Scoop, are you telling me that you’re not playing JOC against right handed pitching? He had a .890 OPS against righties last year! In the end whoever is hitting the best will determine who’s playing the most bw Muncy, JOC and Verdugo

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    1. I traded Joc.

      Actually I copied that from MLB

      Jefe I don’t think people are giving up on Muncy. We are just suggesting he won’t OPS .973 again.

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  13. There is a worst case senerio with this team that we don’t think about. Catcher position could be a disaster. Muncy is a 1 year wonder. Bellinger and Taylor continue to decline. Pollock is a bust, verdugo hits 240 (with no power) , Turner declines a little and Seager is slow coming back from his injuries. Even worse our new setup man has a normal year (450 era and 140 whip) . Of course it is unlikely that all of these would happen but you have talked individually about each of these scenarios. Just saying.

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    1. Worst case scenario would be Turner suffering an injury like Ethier’s and missing the whole year and Seager not coming back at all while Kershaw has to retire because of his back and Kenley needs TJ surgery. So your case is really not worst case. See how far negative thinking can take you if you want to go there? 🙂

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      1. Sorry Andy, I don’t want to be banned forever.
        I hear we’re trading Rocky Gale for Realmuto and signing Harper for 10 years/100 mil this afternoon. How about that for being positive?

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Scoop your line up is spot on, except joc could take ABs from verdugo with a good spring, or we could try to get that kluber/ verdugo plus prospects deal going again. Just dreaming.

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    1. I am not playing Bellinger in RF. Sorry. I just do not like that idea at all. Play him in LF or CF, but not right. Verdugo supposedly has the better arm, and that’s where you want it.

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      1. There is, and has been, redundancy on our roster. We have multiple utility guys, and too many good outfielders. It’s been that way for a while now. What to do? You don’t like Bellinger in the outfield, I don’t like Muncy at second base. These guys have to play somewhere. Pollock is a center fielder, probably. With his athleticism Bellinger could be the best outfielder on our team. Verdugo has to play, or be traded. Joc has to hit against right handers, or be traded. This ain’t slow pitch so we can only have 3 outfielders. Taylor and Hernandez could both play second base, or the outfield. I see many of these guys playing half a game all year. It’s how Roberts does things. So starting only means you play the first 2.2 at bats.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well Scoop. His stats say he is a better fielder at second. And Joc hits righty’s It is lefty’s he has had a problem with. The solution is for the NL to adopt the DH, then we can bury Muncy’s glove. The rumor about that happening is beginning to resurface…..there will be changes coming to the game, most likely when the next CBA is negotiated.

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  15. Your probably right bear, at this point I seriously doubt the Indians trade kluber, I’m just making a point about having three left handed hitting left fielders ( verdugo, joc, Toles) seems like that’s one to many, I’m thinking there is still a chance one of them gets moved, or the team moves Muncy, and plays belly at first. We’ll see if Andrew is listening to you or not, bear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I doubt that Ol Andy would ever want my advice. If he did, Muncy would be gone as would a couple of other fan favorites. Some trades I might have thought of he would not make. Of course he is the one with the decisions to make not me. I root for the team not Andy. Who ever is wearing the blue I will pull for. But I will not always agree with what he does.

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    2. Because of how free agency and signings are dragging out this year I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a trade or two of significance during Spring Training. Not saying it will be Kluber and not even saying it would be Friedman but signings create needs and extra guys to trade so we might see more player movement than usual this spring.

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      1. I see the same possibilities Jefe. This has been the slowest, least interesting off season most who follow the game can remember. If changes or additions are needed they can be done at any time. I don’t think we NEED to do anything. In fact, what we need to do is sort out who starts where.

        I still don’t see why Cleveland would move a cost effective 200 inning 6 WAR pitcher. They expect to win 93 this year. They could still win the Central without him I suppose, but they sure wouldn’t last in the playoffs. I would ask, if we were trading Kershaw what would you expect in return? Also, who do you believe projects better for ‘19, Kluber or Clayton?

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      2. I don’t see the logic in trading Kluber either unless some team could offer them a couple of young, good MLB outfielders with lots of control left that could really help them this year. They may feel they have enough starting pitching that they could throw someone in at number five and move everyone else up one while filling up their outfield which is a black hole at this point. That said, I really don’t see it happening.

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      3. Yeah, we see it similarly Jefe.

        The answer to my question about who projects better is actually Kluber. And that’s against tougher lineups in the AL. So the question I still ask is – if we were trading Clayton Kershaw what would we expect in return? And in fairness, Kluber makes $14M less than Kershaw so what do we expect to get back in trade if we paid $14M of his $31M contract? I think it would more than a couple of outfielders, and would have to include Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and 2 picks.

        No, I don’t see Kluber in LA.

        But….. we don’t need his 200 innings. We have 174 innings of Kershaw, 163 innings of Buehler, Hill, Ryu, Maeda, Stripling, Urias and 13 bullpen mules. We’re good to go.

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      4. Just a minute there Scoop. It looks as though Ball and Ingram will be available so let’s try that before we give up altogether on Kluber. I think Magic is taking one last go at getting AD this morning. He’s offered the entire roster (including LeBron) plus two Staples ushers and the guy behind the beer counter. And, since he’s a Dodger executive, he’s also throwing in Stewart and Yimi.

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