The postseason is looming for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and there’s one individual who could be key to their World Series aspirations.
LA’s lineup is filled with brilliant talents like Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, who just became the franchise's single-season doubles leader. However, the powerful yet flawed bat of Max Muncy may be one of the most important factors this October.
Muncy has collected 36 home runs and 104 RBI so far this season, and presently ranks in the 95th percentile in terms of BB%. The 33-year old’s powerful approach at the plate also includes an uncomfortable amount of strikeouts, He ranks in the 23rd percentile in terms of K% at this point in the season.
The Texas native may be prone to strikeouts, but he hasn't been one to chase pitches this year. At present, he sits in the 81st percentile in terms of chase rate. As streaky as Muncy can be, his skill set could still be beneficial in postseason play.
Simply put, players who bat from the left side, possess a ton of power, and are selective in their approach might be the most dangerous weapon a team can have in October.
Last season’s National League Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, cranked a number of big home runs during their October run. Players such as Rhys Hoskins and Kyle Schwarber were key in the power department that helped keep the offense humming.
Pitching becomes increasingly nuanced in the playoffs. As a result, situational hitting is more challenging. Teams won’t always be able to move station to station. Players like Muncy are crucial because if they happen to “run into one,” the complexion of a game could change in an instant.
From a team perspective it's also clear Muncy could provide some relief this fall. Considering the fact that Will Smith has been struggling mightily down the stretch, it’s key that the Dodgers receive productive at-bats from others besides Betts and Freeman.
Assuming Muncy hits third in the lineup, he will likely be directly after Betts and Freeman, and right in front of the powerful J.D. Martinez.
An opposing pitcher will of course try to work carefully when facing the very top of the order and will have to challenge Muncy due to his “boom or bust” tendencies. Additionally, given it is not known how well LA's rotation will fare against playoff lineups, their offense will have to be the driving force of any deep run.
Muncy has hit 10 career postseason home runs and has also appeared in three World Series. He may not have the same caché as some of the Dodgers’ other bats, but his offensive profile and fearsome approach tucked right behind Betts and Freeman could suddenly see him become the Dodgers' most important postseason player.