The Dodgers are a team well known for taking gambles on signing players who have had previous success within their career before having it plagued by injuries. The same is now true for one of their premiere power hitters and household name for Dodgers fans, who is looking to revamp his prowess at the dish for this revamped offense.
Max Muncy, who at one point looked as if the window had closed on his MLB career back in 2017, has seen the apex of being one of the game’s best hitters and the shortcomings of dealing with obstacles outside of his control. His resilience, as Fabrian Ardaya of The Athletic notes, is embodied in his ability to overcome and play through a season-ending elbow injury in 2021 and to abandon his primary position after the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman last March.
After posting relatively poor offensive numbers in comparison to his previous four combined seasons with L.A., Muncy finished the season on a high note to close the last two months of the regular season.
Ardaya gives a close look at the tweaks Muncy made to salvage what looked to be a lost season:
So he resorted to the equivalent of a Band-Aid. A stray observation in a Coors Field batting cage led him to try something unorthodox — taking a half-step back with his left foot as the pitch was delivered to the plate — in order to lock things into place. The adjustment was patchwork, yet effective: Only 23 qualified hitters had a higher OPS over the season’s final two months than Muncy’s .858 mark.
With Muncy in a lineup that includes MVP caliber players in Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, it can be easy for fans to not consider Muncy as one of the elite hitters within all of baseball, let alone the National League.
“He’s not blind to people, in his mind, writing him off for 2023,” Roberts said of Muncy. “He’s a player that works better when he’s got a chip on his shoulder. So I do think for this year, he feels as though he’s the forgotten man. That’s a good thing for the Dodgers.”
- With the World Baseball Classic now underway, Julio Urías has been the main driving force behind Team Mexico’s starting rotation. Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times gives an insight as to how Urías is looking to mount a similar legacy to those of legends Fernando Valenzuela and Adrian Gonzalez.
- Daniel Hudson was able to throw successful live BP sessions for the first time this spring late last week, and Yency Almonte made his spring training debut Saturday. Blake Williams of Dodger Blue has more on the status of both relievers as well as adding Dave Roberts’ input on Hudson’s situation.
- Miguel Vargas was cleared to be able to swing the bat again, and the results are starting to show. Ethan Deur of Dodger Blue has more on Vargas’ performance against Oakland and his mindet heading into the season.
- Vargas is already starting to take inspiration from Mookie Betts. Juan Toribio at MLB.com has more on how Betts sees the potential for Vargas to be a key contributor for the new-look 2023 team.