A pair of defensive miscues by Max Muncy loomed large in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on Saturday.
Clayton Kershaw, who made his final tune-up before the National League Division Series, was spinning a gem before walking two consecutive batters to open the bottom of the sixth.
The left-hander got the first out of the inning on a force play at second base. Muncy fielded a ground ball and threw out Austin Slater, but Thairo Estrada beat Chris Taylor’s attempt at a double play.
Kershaw then appeared to get the inning-ending double play he needed to escape unscathed, but Muncy bobbled a ground ball off the bat of Wilmer Flores that allowed the Giants to take a decided lead.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts defended Muncy and pointed out that Flores’ ground ball had too much spin on it to handle cleanly, per SportsNet LA:
“On the Estrada ball, he came in and I just think it might not have been hit hard enough to turn two with Estrada running. And on the Flores ball, I think it just had some funky spin and Max just couldn’t secure it to turn the double play or get an out.”
Muncy is in his second season as the Dodgers’ primary third baseman, and after a successful showing last year, he has taken a step back defensively.
Muncy has committed an MLB-worst 16 errors in 123 games at third base this season. He also ranks last in UZR/150 (-5.6) and second-to-last in defensive runs above average (-3.6).
Muncy is viewed more favorably in other statistics, such as defensive runs saved (-3) and Baseball-Reference’s defensive wins above replacement (0.1).
Dave Roberts expects Max Muncy to improve at third base
Muncy got off to a bad start defensively before bouncing back during the summer, but now is struggling again. “Early on, I think it wasn’t good. The field, the turf was in flux at that point,” Roberts recently said.
“And then it was really good, and the last few weeks it hasn’t been great, to be quite honest. He’s working really hard at cleaning some things up. I think he hasn’t been as good at getting off the baseball as he typically is.
“So with that, you tend to get some bad hops. That’s stuff that I’m certain will be cleaned up. I’ve seen him very good and very consistent. The last two or three weeks, for me, is not an indication of the type of defender he is.”
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