The Los Angeles Dodgers are, as beat writer Andy McCullough once put it, a "fully operational Death Star." They are loaded with talent from the top of the lineup to the bottom. Their pitching staff is number one in MLB in ERA and batting average against. They are a team with few holes.
One of the linchpins of the Dodgers lineup is Max Muncy. In every full season with the Dodgers, Muncy has hit 35+ home runs. In 2021, he finished in the top-10 in MVP voting. He can play three different positions, and his plate discipline is the stuff you use as a template to teach young players. He is one of the most integral parts of the Dodgers' makeup. Unfortunately, Muncy is also having a terrible time right now. The straw that broke the camel's back was this catastrophic mistake.
Salt In The Wounds
Brutal. Every MLB player is human and mistakes happen. Professionals take it hard, and when one costs a game it's even harder. Muncy took this one very hard.
This interview was difficult to watch. The reporters have to ask their questions but after every question, it felt like the knife that Muncy impaled himself on was being twisted. The fallout for Muncy on social media has been compounded by the fact that he's been struggling mightily at the plate since the season began. Muncy currently has a 76 OPS+, a .156/.331/.279 slash line. He's still taking his walks which has mercifully padded his numbers a little but overall these numbers are terrible. He has only three home runs in 2022 thus far. Everything has been going wrong for Muncy.
There's An Explanation?
Baseball fans for better or worse tend to have short memories. When forgetting a brutal postseason exit it's a good thing but when it means forgetting that a player had a major injury just before the last postseason, that's problematic. Just before the 2021 playoffs, the Dodgers lost Muncy to this terrible-looking injury.
Muncy kept his injury close to the vest during the 2021 playoffs but it was revealed later to be a torn UCL, also known as the "Tommy John" injury. Since this occurred in Muncy's non-throwing hand, Tommy John surgery isn't necessary, but it has affected his bat in some way, shape, or form. This is not the Max Muncy the Dodgers are accustomed to having in the lineup. Given the severity of this injury, it becomes more apparent that Muncy is going to need time and patience.
If there is any player on the Dodgers who deserves that, Muncy is one of them.
Maximus the Gladiator
Since 2018, Muncy has given the Dodgers a ton of production and memorable moments. Who could forget the Dodgers' best moment in the 2018 World Series?
What about the Max Muncy moment that inspired a shirt, a catchphrase, and more Madison Bumgarner schadenfreude? Go get it out of the ocean!
This one tends to get lost in the other moments, but I loved this home run by Muncy in the 2020 World Series. The bat drop is chill-inducing and he blasted this pitch off of Tyler Glasnow.
Give Muncy His Respect
The aforementioned moments earn Muncy patience from Dodger fans. The effort, consistency, and team-player attitude Muncy carries every day earns the patience of his teammates and organization. It's understandable to get frustrated when a player does not play to their potential. If you're frustrated watching Muncy struggle, try to stop and imagine how frustrated Muncy is with himself. Hopefully, that inspires you to be patient. "Maximum Muncy" is coming.