Max Muncy

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Maxwell Steven Muncy

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Biographical Information[edit]

Playing for the Oakland Athletics on June 16, 2016, Max Muncy broke up a no-hit bid by Colby Lewis of the Texas Rangers with one out in the 9th inning. He hit a ball to deep right field which Nomar Mazara briefly had in his glove but dropped as he hit the fence. It was ruled a double, and he then came in to score on another double by Coco Crisp, but the A's lost the game, 5-1. He had first come up with the A's at the end of April in 2015 and hit .206 in 45 games. In 2016, he hit .186 in 51 games. There was little indication at that point that he was anything more than a AAAA Player able to fill in at multiple positions in case of injury.

He was released by the A's at the end of spring training in 2017 and did not play at all in the majors that season after signing on with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of April. He spent the year in AAA with the Oklahoma City Dodgers where he hit .309 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 109 games. He was not really in the major league Dodgers' plans heading into 2018 either, but injuries prompted his call-up in mid-April, and he began to hit so well that the Dodgers had no choice but to keep him on the roster and give him regular playing time, filling in at third base in the absence of Justin Turner and later at first base and occasionally at second. On July 3rd, he homered twice in an 8-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to reach the 20-home run mark for the first time; indeed he had hit only 5 homers in all during his two partial seasons with the Athletics. While he was not one of the players designated for the All-Star team when initial rosters were announced on July 8th, he was one of five finalists for the Final Man Vote in the National League. Also, not wanting to pas up what could potentially be his 15 minutes of fame, he accepted a spot in the Home Run Derby. He finished the season at .263 in 137 games, 35 homers and 79 RBIs. In the postseason he added a couple more homers in L.A's win over the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series, and one more in their loss to the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.

Those who expected him to fade away in 2019 after his unexpected star turn the year before were proven wrong, as he got off to another good start, displaying both solid power and on-base skills as the Dodgers got off to a great start. On June 9th, he hit a monster home run off Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants, accounting for the only run in a 1-0 game. The shot went clean into McCovey Cove beyond the right field fence at Oracle Park, landing an estimated 426 feet away from home plate. Bumgarner took issue with the fact Muncy paused ever so shortly to watch the ball before beginning his trot around the bases and started yelling at him before he even touched first base. Muncy answered him by saying Bumgarner could "Go get it out of the ocean" if he was so peeved, a phrase which quickly went viral. But tempers were kept in check, especially as umpire Will Little intervened to make sure things did not degenerate any further. He made the All-Star team for the first time that season. He was batting .253 with 33 homers and 87 RBIs in 129 games for a Dodgers team that was the class of the National League when he had to go on the injured list on August 30th with a broken wrist, the result of having been hit by a pitch a few days earlier. He finished the season at .251 in 141 games, with 35 homers and 98 RBIs. He continued to batter the ball in the postseason, going 5 for 19 with 3 homers in the Division Series, but the Dodgers were still upset by the Washington Nationals.

On August 15, 2020, he became the first player in major league history to hit a sacrifice fly as the leadoff hitter of an inning. It was in the 10th inning with the Tiebreaker rule in effect. Chris Taylor started the 10th inning on second base as the "designated runner" and quickly stole third base and came to score on Muncy's fly ball for a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He had started the year slowly as he was hitting just .169 after 20 games with 4 homers but just 5 RBIs. However, while he batted just .192 for the year, playing in 58 of his team's 60 games, he still managed 12 homers and 27 RBIs. His OPS+ was below 100, at 95, but he found vindication in the postseason after being shut down, 0 for 5 in the two-game Wild Card Series: over the next three rounds, he went 15 for 55 (.273) with 18 walks, 4 doubles and 3 homers, proving to be a continual thorn in the site of all of the Dodgers' opponents, up to and including the Tampa Bay Rays, whom they defeated in six games to win the 2020 World Series.

Max had probably his best season in 2021, making the All-Star team for the second time and being in the discussion for the MVP Award. In 144 games, he batted .249 but with an OBP of .368, slugged 36 homers, drew 83 walks, scored 95 runs and drove in 94 for an OPS+ of 138. The numbers were very much in line with those he had put up in 2018 and 2019, the difference being that he was the one consistent factor in the Dodgers' line-up, as teammates Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Justin Turner were all slowed down by either injuries or slumps at one point. The Dodgers ended up with 106 wins - but still finished second in the NL West, one game behind a surprising San Francisco Giants team. In the season's final game on October 3rd against the Milwaukee Brewers, he sustained an elbow injury in a collision with baserunner Jace Peterson of the Brewers and had to leave the game. As a result, he missed the entire postseason. He fell back considerably in 2022, to a level similar to his disappointing 2020 season - except over a full year. Displaced from first base by the signing of free agent Freddie Freeman, he saw most of his action at third base, with other appearances at second base and DH, and hit .196 in 136 games, with 21 homers and 69 RBIs. He drew 90 walks, matching his career high, but it was still not enough to give him an OPS+ over 100 as he finished at 97. The Dodgers ran away with the division title however, and he personally did well in his return to the postseason, going 4 for 16 with a double and a homer in his team's four-game upset at the hands of the San Diego Padres in the Division Series.

He got off to a much better start to his season in 2023, as after 12 games, he was tied for the National League RBI lead with 14. This was largely on the strength of a great series against the San Francisco Giants that saw him homer twice and drive in seven runs in a 9-1 win on April 10th, and then homer twice more with 4 more ribbies in a 10-5 win on April 12th. On May 3rd, he hit a walk-off grand slam against former teammate Craig Kimbrel to give the Dodgers a 10-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. It was the first walk-off grand slam by a Dodgers batter since Andre Ethier had hit one on May 6, 2010 and capped a perfect 6-0 homestand, which saw the Dodgers improve from 13-13 to 19-13. Playing mostly third base that season, he hit .212 in 135 games, but with 85 walks and 36 homers. He scored 95 runs and was one of four Dodgers players to collect over 100 RBIs, with 105, the others being Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. However, L.A. made another quick exit from the postseason, being swept in three games by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Division Series as he went 2 for 11 without an extra-base hit or RBI. Following the season, on November 2nd, he signed a two-year extension with the Dodgers for $24 million.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (2019 & 2021)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2018, 2019 & 2021-2023)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2018, 2019, 2021 & 2023)
  • 100 RBIs seasons: 1 (2023)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • Won one World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ken Gurnick: "Muncy: Minor Leaguer to WS hero in 1 year", mlb.com October 27, 2018. [1]
  • Jack Harris (Los Angeles Times): "Haunting memories of last year are driving Max Muncy this postseason", Yahoo! News, October 10, 2022. [2]
  • Juan Toribio: "Muncy's walk-off slam the perfect end to perfect homestand", mlb.com, May 3, 2023. [3]

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