Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers has looked like a brand new version of himself through the first three weeks of the 2023 regular season.
Muncy, a two-time All-Star, has been a heavily relied upon infielder for the Dodgers dating back to 2018 when he hit 35 home runs with 79 RBI and an OPS+ of 161. He has topped 30 home runs twice since then while being one of the most valuable assets in this club's lineup.
In 2022, he had a massive down year, leading to a ton of Dodgers fans turning their backs on him. Through 136 games, the once powerful Muncy hit just 21 home runs with 69 RBI and saw his average dip below the Mendoza Line to .196. He was still a valuable hitter (1.9 oWAR) but the overall consistency just wasn't there. His 141 strikeouts, .713 OPS and 98 OPS+ just wasn't what was expected of him.
Turning the clocks forward a bit, he has been lighting the opposition up through 22 games this year, seemingly back to the level of play he was at as recently as the 2021 season when he finished 10th in the NL MVP voting.
In 71 at-bats, Muncy has a major league-leading 11 home runs with 21 runs batted in already. He's drawing a ton of walks (18, which is 20% of his plate appearances) and has his average up to .254 and OPS+ up to 197.
While most of these numbers are not sustainable throughout the course of a full season, there are many Dodgers fans who should reassess where they're at with Muncy. His struggles last year stemmed from an injury in Game 162 the season prior, but now he's primed to be one of the best hitters in the lineup for 2023.
Some fans wanted his team option for the 2023 season declined by the Dodgers. Instead, the team guaranteed him his salary for 2023 and extended him through 2024 (with another club option), which is looking genius right about now.
As one of the veterans in the lineup, Muncy's return to form is a welcome one for the Dodgers, who are very much still in their contention window but have had a hard time winning games this year after all of the offseason changes. Muncy's kept them afloat in the early going, so just imagine what it'll all look like once everyone comes around.