Dodgers News: Max Muncy on Turning His Career Around in Los Angeles
Max Muncy appeared out of nowhere for the Dodgers in the 2018 MLB season. After playing in just 96 career MLB games before coming to Los Angeles, and tallying five home runs and 17 RBI with an OPS+ of 70, Muncy burst onto the scene in 2018, hitting 35 home runs and 79 RBI and posting an impressive OPS+. 161. His .973 OPS wasn’t too shabby either.
Muncy then followed that year with an even better 2019, hitting 35 home runs and 98 RBI, and being named to the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Muncy would go on to make another All-Star team in 2021 and play a key role in the Dodgers’ World Series win in 2020. However, just a few years before all of that, his MLB career nearly ended before to prove it. even started.
Dodgers Nation had the opportunity to speak with Muncy about his time before joining the Dodgers.
“When I got released from Oakland and I’m sitting on the couch, I was like, thank God it’s over … I think I’m probably done playing baseball. I’m just not having fun with it anymore.”
Muncy was released by the Oakland Athletics in 2017 and spent some time at home. But he began to miss games, and soon after joined the Dodgers in a minor league deal.
“I think the biggest thing for me was that you have to learn to have fun. This game is very hard, mentally, physically. It’s the only sport where you fail most of the time. And it’s also the only sport where you can do everything 100% right – you can have the perfect swing, make perfect contact and find what? There is a boy standing there. It’s such a frustrating sport that, for me, one of the things that happened was that I lost the ability to have fun. I lost the ability to smile on the pitch.”
The Dodgers were taking a chance on the 27-year-old, but he quickly proved to be a good investment.
Muncy hit .309 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 2017 with the Oklahoma City Dodgers and earned a call-up to start 2018 with the Dodgers. Once he went upstairs, he never came back.
And while some of that had to do with the swing adjustments Muncy made, he said a lot of it had to do with the mental aspect of the game and changing his attitude and approach.
“If I want to give it another shot, I have to change my attitude about it. And that was the biggest thing. Of course I made the swing adjustments, it was all very well documented. But I just had to relearn how to have fun, how to make it childish and how to smile when you’re out there. And just enjoy being out in the dirt, out in the grass. You are there with your friends. You had the fans cheering for you, cursing you at the same time. That’s wonderful. That’s what baseball is all about. It’s fun. So relearning how to have fun with the Dodgers accepting me and supporting me, you know I would do anything for the Dodgers.”
Muncy has been able to do just that, on his way to becoming one of the most important Dodgers in this consistent National League contender. Muncy’s struggles last season were very evident, as the Dodgers lost his All-Star bat in the lineup supporting the top of the order. Muncy’s elbow injury obviously played a big role in the Dodgers not winning in 2021, and not being the same guy hurt them through the 2022 regular season and postseason.
Now, though, Muncy is more than a year removed from injury and he’s ready to put last season behind him and play an even bigger role on a team that’s missing many of last season’s key contributors. Muncy is suddenly one of the longest-tenured Dodgers, so he should play a big role as a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse.
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