Going into Friday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy had been slumping a bit, going 0-for-10 in his last three games and 1-for-18 in his last five.
Muncy had gone back and forth between leadoff and the No. 2 spot in the Dodgers lineup to begin the year, admitting that hitting atop the order is something he had to get comfortable doing as he never had previously done so in his career.
With Muncy struggling a bit, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts dropped him down to the No. 6 spot for the series opener against the Giants.
“I like the way he’s still taking walks and there’s still some slug in there. I think when Max goes right-center (field) to left-center, he’s a considerably better hitter,” Roberts said before the game.
“I think he’s getting a heavy dose of breaking balls, and he’s releasing the barrel and putting it on the ground. He’s working really hard and he’ll get through it. It’s just a sense of giving him a different look and letting the game come to him a little bit. I expect guys to be on base tonight and I expect him to come through.”
It looks like the move did the trick as Muncy slugged a solo home run in the fourth inning of the 7-2 victory, good for his team-leading fourth of the season.
Muncy finished the game 1-for-4 so still has some work to do to completely break out of the mini-slump.
Roberts wants Muncy to remain aggressive in leadoff spot
Before Roberts moved Muncy down in the order, he spoke about wanting him to remain aggressive while at batting leadoff.
“Just being at the top, he can slug you, he can get on base, he always conducts a professional at-bat. It is certainly a little bit of an adjustment for him being the first hitter of a game, especially on the road,” Roberts noted.
“I just encourage him to be the hitter he is and if he sees the first pitch of the game and wants to take a swing, then feel free to do that.”
It will be interesting to see where Roberts moves Muncy from here as with Corey Seager going down with a back injury, he likely will at least move up to the No. 5 spot.
Roberts has maintained he wants a lefty at the top of the lineup against right-handed pitchers, and Joc Pederson has taken that over with Muncy struggling. Pederson was the team’s primary leadoff man the last couple of seasons.
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