As it took a while for Max Muncy to finally settle into his 2019 campaign, many of his numbers are now on track to exceed some of the impressive statistics he registered when he surprised the baseball world last season.
In Friday night’s opener against the Phillies, Muncy’s bat was key in the Dodgers‘ 6-3 victory, as he went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and two runs scored. He has now homered in two of his last three games and has gone 13-for-41 over his last 10 games with three homers, 12 runs scored and six RBI.
Admittedly, I was one of those people who threw around Muncy’s name as trade bait over the winter, speculating that the 28 year old would regress this season. Indeed, his start was painstakingly slow, but while his power numbers might not be what they were last year, he’s becoming a more versatile hitter, which could be more valuable to the team in the long run.
Over his first 27 games of 2019, Muncy hit just .218/.323/.462, a slash line that suggested that his 2018 numbers might have been anomalies in a season when he was swinging through the roof. However, in his last 30 games, he has hit .315/.401/.568, indicating a huge improvement. His .969 OPS over those last 30 games is right on line with his .972 mark from last season.
More importantly, Muncy has settled nicely into the two-hole while removing the pressure from Corey Seager, who is still searching for his groove after missing most of last year with UCL surgery. As it stands now, Muncy is hitting .275 through the first 57 games of the season after posting a .263 mark last year. Furthermore, he has already garnered 29 walks, suggesting that he’ll blow right by the 79 bases on balls he collected last season.
And, while his slugging percentage is undeniably down a few ticks, he has hit 12 long balls already, which puts him on pace with the 35 he slugged in 2018.
Muncy joins Cody Bellinger (20 HR) and Joc Pederson (17 HR) as one of the club’s most legitimate power threats. The trio has accounted for 49 total long balls, which is more than half of the team’s tally of 92. With all three players normally hitting in the first four spots of the lineup, the top of the batting order has undeniably become one of the most potent in baseball—at least against righty pitching.
If you’re a follower of WAR, Muncy has accumulated a 2.1 mark so far this year after posting a 4.2 mark in 2018—a number he could easily surpass even before the end of August, especially when considering his current rate of production.
Perhaps more importantly, he’s hitting .258/.324/.532 against lefty pitching this season, showing that he’s able to contribute as an everyday player regardless of the opposing pitcher.
Of course, there are still a few blemishes in his game when it comes to defense, but the fact that he can move around the infield, coupled with his proven offensive prowess, supersedes the handful of balls he’s kicked so far this season. Still, as far as errors go, he has only three this year after posting 13 for the entirety of 2018.
Obviously, Max will go through his spells of both hot and cold streaks during the remainder of the season, but his latest success surely indicates that his 2018 campaign was certainly not a fluke in the least.