Max Muncy began the year as the best hitter on the Los Angeles Dodgers and pushed his way into the MVP race by batting .279/.413/.557 with a 161 wRC+ through July.
However, since Aug. 1, Muncy is hitting just .199/.282/.497 with a 106 wRC+, which Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thinks is due to an uncharacteristic approach at the plate. “No. 1 is he’s chasing more. It’s very clear,” Roberts said.
“I think he has an elite ability to look over a baseball and stay in the strike zone. The last 30 days he’s chased. He’s run into some homers, which has been great, but I think he’s more than a one-dimensional home run hitter; he’s an on-base guy and can use the whole field.
“You don’t ever want to think anyone is chasing numbers, I just think literally and figuratively he’s chasing and expanding. We’ve got to him back in the strike zone. That’s when he’s his best.”
When Muncy was at his best, he was chasing pitches out of the strike zone just 18% of the time. Now, that number has gone up to 22%. Muncy was also making nearly 7% more contact on pitches out of the zone when he did swing early in the season.
Roberts is not sure what has caused Muncy to expand, but hoped time off will allow him to get back to doing what he does best.
“I don’t have an answer. I do know that his ability to get on base and drive runs in is what makes him special,” Roberts noted. “When you’re talking about the last couple weeks of September and through October — we saw his best last postseason — take what the pitcher give you.
“We’ve talked about that, and hopefully not getting a start and [Monday] off, he can reset and get back to doing what makes him great.”
Muncy’s importance to Dodgers lineup
Roberts deemed Muncy “very” important to the Dodgers offense and noted the team needs him to get back to producing at the level he can once the playoffs begin.
“He’s a top-of-the-order, middle-of-the-order guy. What makes us special is being able to run counts, get on base and create traffic. He’s a big part of that,” Roberts said.
“So when he’s chasing and out of the zone, it’s a big void. Like I said, the expectation is he’ll get back to doing what makes him special.”
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