Max Muncy broke out during the 2018 season, becoming one of the most impactful and important players in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup.
He had a down season in 2020, like many players did during the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned to form in the postseason to help the Dodgers win the World Series. From the 2018-21 seasons, Muncy batted .246/.371/.520 with a 138 wRC+ and 118 home runs.
But at the end of the 2021 season, Muncy was injured in a collision at first base, which tore the UCL in his left elbow. That led to struggles early in the 2022 season, and he ultimately finished the year batting just .196/.329/.384 with a 106 wRC+ that was also partly fueled by a late-season rebound.
Now going into the 2023 regular season fully healthy, Muncy is determined to prove his down year was an outlier as he looks to return to being a feared middle-of-the-order hitter, according to Mike Digiovanna of the L.A. Times:
“You feel like you get forgotten a little bit,” said Muncy, who had a career-worst .196 average, .713 OPS, 21 homers and 69 RBIs in 2022. “You have a bad year, and suddenly no one thinks you’re a good player anymore. So I feel like I have a lot to prove this year, and I like it that way. That’s how it’s been my whole career.”
Projection systems believe Muncy will rebound, projecting him for a line around .235/.350/.450 with a wRC+ around 125 with 25 or more homers, and there’s reason to believe he can be even better.
After hitting .164/.320/.319 with a 90 wRC+ in the first half of 2022, Muncy responded by batting .230/.340/.451 with a 125 wRC+ after the All-Star break. It was fueled by an unorthodox change to his batting stance of taking a half step back as a pitch is being thrown, which has since been done away with.
Another year removed from the elbow injury should help the infielder feel more comfortable, both mentally and physically.
The Dodgers will also need Muncy to rebound following the losses of Trea Turner and Justin Turner to the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox, respectively. He should open the season hitting in the middle of the order and the club will look for him to once again reach the 30 homer mark.
Max Muncy visited Driveline Baseball
As more players turn to data-driven approaches, Driveline Baseball has grown in popularity over the years. The training academy uses science and technology, including motion capture assessments and physical therapy evaluations, to help players optimize their mechanics and performance.
The Dodgers have an excellent relationship with Driveline, which translates to players training there each offseason. This year saw the likes of Mookie Betts, Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor and Muncy work out at the facility.
Muncy’s main focus at the training facility was to increase his bat speed, which he felt was necessary with how many pitchers can reach the triple digits with their fastball.
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