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2018 Dodgers Review: Max Muncy

The perfectly rectangular, unsung hero the Dodgers needed

MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Max Muncy went from minor-league signing in 2017 to unheralded hero by the end of the 2018 season. His time with the Dodgers has been quite eventful.

What went right

Muncy began the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City — as expected. The Dodgers got off to a slow start and, thanks to a slow start from Corey Seager, a wrist fracture to Justin Turner and a shoulder injury to Logan Forsythe, Muncy got his shot on April 17. He started a little slowly (.730 OPS in April), but he got on track quickly in May and June. He had a .932 OPS in May and an even better 1.176 OPS in June. Through the end of June, he was the Dodgers’ best hitter, and one of the best hitters in all of baseball. That garnered him some serious All-Star consideration.

While he didn’t make the National League All-Star team, he participated in the Home Run Derby. He hit 17 home runs in the first round and 12 in the second. He fell to future teammate Bryce Harper in that round, though.

Despite an increase in strikeouts in the second half, he still posted a .919 OPS (after a 1.013 first-half OPS) en route to a 35-home run campaign.

His signature moment came in Game 3 of the World Series that I’m not sure has even ended yet. After just missing a walk-off home run in the 15th inning, he made good in the 18th inning. Muncy hit a walk-off home run off Red Sox pitcher Nate Eovaldi to give the Dodgers their lone win of the 2018 Fall Classic.

What went wrong

Muncy has never been known as a strong defender. He was brought up to play third base in Forsythe and Turner’s absence. That lasted until Turner returned from injury. But Turner missed some more time that forced Muncy back to third base. This time, it lasted until July when he made an error in Milwaukee that led to three Brewer runs and a Dodger loss. The Dodgers had acquired Manny Machado about a week prior and he played the hot corner until Turner came back from his second injury. Muncy eventually found a home mostly at first base, but also dabbled at second base.

At the plate, his second half got off to a rough start. The first month after the All-Star break, he hit just .209/.284/.495. The power was still there, but the walks weren’t (7.8 percent after 18.6 percent in the first half). The strikeouts also spiked to an alarming level — 38.2 percent in that month after a 23.3 K% in the first half. Luckily, he closed the season strong (.304/.350/.620), thanks in part to having his playing time cut back just a bit.

2018 particulars

Age: 27

Stats: .263/.391/.582/.973, 35 HR, 79 RBI, 104 H, 75 R, 161 OPS+, 5.2 WAR

Salary: Pre-arb

Game of the Year

Game 1 of the National League Division Series saw Muncy hit a 3-run home run in the second inning to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead (and basically won the game and series at that point). He walked three times and even stole a base.

Roster status

Muncy has two years and 27 days of service time. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time following the 2019 season. He also has two minor-league option years remaining.