Oh, and it’s 2021. This is not a matter of a few months. This is the story of someone realizing his potential and basking in it on an upward slope for four years.
We’re talking about Max Muncy. But who outside of Southern California knows the full scope of how deep this thing goes? Or to whom we’re referring?
Despite being the perfect embodiment of what a baseball player should be in the modern era — swings from the heels, celebrates, strikes out (sure) but knows when to take his walks — Muncy still doesn’t rank among the most feared Dodgers, at least by outsiders. It’s time to recalibrate that.
Maybe those watching on a national stage, who don’t see Muncy everyday, have the same incorrect opinion about him that they seem to hold regarding Cody Bellinger: great power, doesn’t do enough else.
Those people would be so powerfully wrong (on both accounts). In 2021 especially, Muncy is playing like a genuine MVP candidate, and qualifies as one of the best hitters in baseball in a spring that’s contained a lot of depressed offense.
There’s possibly no one more underrated in the game of baseball.
Dodgers star Max Muncy is the most underrated player in MLB.
Counting numbers? Muncy’s been remarkably steady for the surging Dodgers, helping this team to weather an onslaught of early-season storms. Leading the league in both walks and OBP, Muncy has pounced on pitches near the zone with ferocity, slamming 11 home runs through 48 games (nearly eclipsing last year’s remarkable 60-game total) after posting back-to-back years of 35 bombs in his first two campaigns as a full-time starter.
The peripherals? Even better. Red across the board.
Muncy ranks in the league’s top eight percent in barrel percentage, top five percent in expected slugging (.579), top three percent in WOBA (.426) and top ONE PERCENT in xWOBA (.437).
His walk percentage? I mean…do we even have to tell you? 20.8, also in the top one percent of all players in the game.
Against lefties — LEFTIES — Muncy, who’s theoretically overmatched against a collection of top-notch breakers and whatever this league’s best and brightest relievers have to offer, has a higher OBP than he does against righties: .470, along with an sOPS+ (split OPS+) of 179.
Against righties, it’s a 184 mark. Muncy isn’t neutralized by anyone. When Dave Roberts calls him one of the best players in the game, he’s not exaggerating.
After a scorching postseason featuring several memorable home runs and series honors, Corey Seager was considered the engine of this Dodgers offense, while Mookie Betts — spectacular in his own right — emerged as the face in 2020.
Seager is explosive, but Muncy’s steadiness and attitude should no longer go unnoticed as the driver of a potential 110-win juggernaut out West, and he was bought for a song just four years ago.
Until he’s thought of as an annual top-five MVP candidate, he’ll remain the game’s most underrated presence at the plate.