He is one of those famous ‘reclamation projects’ that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been famous for in the past few years. Taking a player that may not have been coveted by other teams and turning them into an All-Star.
The Dodgers did just that with Max Muncy, who the Dodgers signed in 2017 and tucked him away in Triple-A Oklahoma City to work on his play. By 2018 he was up with the big team, and providing power in the lineup. He hit 35 home runs in both 2018 and 2019, and in 2021 he had 36 long balls.
Muncy has been a steady on-base machine for the last four plus years. But this season, no matter what he does, Muncy cannot get his bat going.
The utility man is currently sitting with a .156/.331/.279/.610 slash line with three homers. Muncy is still consistently getting walks; but the hits just aren’t coming. Over his last 15 games, Max only has eight hits in 46 at bats.
The culmination of a bad start to the season seemed to be Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, where Muncy struck out with bases loaded in the 10th inning, and then bobbled a ball at second base that would have gotten the third out and allowed the Phillies to score two and win in walk-off fashion.
After the game, a thoroughly dejected Muncy spoke with reporters.
“I go out there everyday, and I at least try to throw something in the bucket, and do whatever I can to help the team win, and whether it’s get a walk, make a play, get on base, unfortunately today I took something out of it. I didn’t add to helping the team win and that’s my own fault and I gotta own up to that”.
When asked whether he should say anything to Muncy after a play like that, manager Dave Roberts said “No, he’s a pro, he’s got to keep going. He’s played good defense for us all year, it’s just something that happens. Right now he’s grinding, he just hasn’t been able to get going yet this season. Working hard at the plate, he’s not giving at bats away, he’s still competing, the last thing he wanted to do was not field that ball.”
Doc was also on High Heat on Monday talking with Alanna Rizzo about Muncy. “It’s tough because Max is such a great ball player…and that play right there, I know he’d like to have that back. But I’m going to keep running him out there…baseballs a tough game, and that scene right there, we all feel for him right now.” Roberts went on to say that he didn’t think that Muncy was taking his offensive woes into the field.
Roberts also said that he thinks that maybe the injury is still hampering Muncy, more in the mental side of things as opposed to the physical side. He said that Muncy will be right back out there in Mondays game and that he feels like Muncy will be seeing the upswing soon.
Most likely, this is the cause. It was a huge blow to Muncy and to the team when his UCL was torn trying to make a play on first base in the last game of the 2021 regular season, and while he may physically be feeling well, the mental part of it may not have caught up with Muncy yet.
As stated, Max is in Monday night’s lineup, batting sixth, about where he’s been most of the season. He will be playing third base while Justin Turner gets a night off.
It remains to be seen how long Roberts and the coaching staff let Muncy go before doing something to change things up for him. A phantom IL stint could be in his future, as a reset of sorts. But Roberts is known to ride out players’ low points until they find themselves again. Luckily Muncy is on a team where they are not solely dependent on his production. But there are games like Sunday’s that do unfortunately bring his issues to the forefront. Let’s hope that this was rock bottom for Muncy, and the upswing beings from here.