Max Muncy is saving the Dodgers’ season, one walk at a time
Max Muncy wasn’t supposed to be good. A former fifth round draft pick (2012) of the Oakland Athletics, the scouting report on Muncy said that he was athletic and patient at the plate, but wouldn’t develop into your typical power-hitting first baseman. Depending on who you ask, Max Muncy wasn’t supposed to make it as a major leaguer.
Yet here we are, in the first week of July 2018, and Max Muncy is saving the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Corey Seager, Hyun-jin Ryu and Julio Urias are all on the disabled list. Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been able to remain healthy and Justin Turner has played in just 37 games due to injury. But because of a 27-year-old infielder who doesn’t care what your scouting reports say about him, everything may turn out just fine for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers finished the month of June with a 17-9 record, putting themselves just 3.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. During that period, Muncy posted a league-high 24.8% walk rate, drawing 25 free passes in 101 plate appearances. His slash line reads .289/.465/.711/1.176 with a remarkable 214 wRC+. Only Paul Goldschmidt posted a higher wRC+ (216) and OPS (1.199) over the last month. Muncy also jacked 10 home runs in those 26 games.
For the season, Muncy is hitting .264 with a .406 on-base percentage, posting a 2.6 fWAR in the process. He has recorded eight doubles and 17 home runs in his 60 games in a Dodger’s uniform. Coming into the season, Muncy had appeared in just 96 major league games, all with the Athletics in 2015 and 2016. He spent the entire 2017 season in AAA for the Dodgers.
Patience is finally paying off
Muncy hit .206 and .186 in his first two seasons, smashing just five home runs and posting a -0.7 fWAR. Again, Max Muncy wasn’t supposed to be good. But he is and should play an important role on major league rosters for years to come. As it turns out, patience is key.
He doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify on statistical leaderboards, however, Muncy is among the best in a number of key categories. Currently, Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto leads the league in lowest O-Swing rate (percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone) with a 17.1% rate. Zoom out slightly and you see Mike Trout sitting seventh, with a 21% O-Swing rate. Muncy’s chase rate is 18.9%. Also, Muncy would trail only Mike Trout (19.9%) in highest walk-rate (18.9%), if he qualified.
Will Muncy continue to put up these ridiculous numbers? Probably not. Will he be an instrumental piece for another Dodgers playoff run? Absolutely.
Now that’s a bat-flip. Not flashy, but proves the point that you now own that pitcher. 10/10.