Max Muncy wasn’t always a Dodger. He once wore Oakland gold and green, until they dumped him during Spring Training in 2017. The wolf pup was unemployed, but fate stepped in. The Dodgers saw something in Muncy, and they signed him to play for their AAA club in Oklahoma City, where he would later be joined by Walker Buehler.
Muncy got a chance to mix with the big club in Spring Training 2018. That’s when he first caught my eye. The Dodgers played Muncy at first base, where he made a few impressive defensive plays while flashing cat-like reflexes. At the dish, he showed the potential to be a power hitter, and enough speed on the basepaths to be that guy who turns doubles into triples.
Here’s a video I made during the season documenting LADR’s spotting and championing of the young wolf during Spring Training:
Whenever the Dodgers made ST cuts, I scanned the reports, hoping the young wolf was still with the squad. He was.
Muncy began the 2018 season back in Oklahoma City, and here’s where the connection to Buehler, OKC, and the World Series takes a Twilight Zone twist.
According to a tweet by @SlangsOnSports:
To reiterate, because this is one of those coincidences which makes baseball so lovable:
Walker Buehler’s 2018 season began with a start on April 5 in an Oklahoma City at Iowa Triple-A game.
The Dodgers’ farm team won 2-1. The deciding run? A 5th-inning Max Muncy solo HR.
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 27, 2018
Both Muncy and Buehler were called up with the big club, and they both hit the ground running. Muncy went from hitting warning track doubles in Spring Training to home runs at Chavez Ravine. His red-hot star rose far enough to earn a spot in the All Star Game’s Home Run Derby. He hit an amazing 17 homers in the first round and 12 in the second, falling just short of derby winner, Bryce Harper.
He cooled off a bit after the All Star break, and chatter arose that he was just a flash in the pan, and he would fade as the summer wore on. Muncy found his groove again, and he bounced back, endinghis season as the biggest home run bat in the Dodgers’ lineup with 35 blasts, and a .263/.391/.582 slash line. He also hit two home runs in the NLDS.
After starting the first two games of the World Series on the bench (?!?!?!), Muncy was granted his first start in Game 3. He ended up being the difference-maker… twice.
Losing 2-1, in the bottom of the 13th inning, the Dodgers sent Muncy to the plate, and he earned a walk. Cody Bellinger popped one up along the third base seats, which Eduardo Nunez caught. When Nunez tumbled over the rail and into the stands, Muncy smartly took second base. He was in scoring position.
Yasiel Puig sent a hot shot up the middle, but Ian Kinsler threw the ball wide of first. The ball scooted toward the stands, and Muncy used that doubles-into-triples speed to score the tying run.
Muncy later missed hitting a game-winning home run off Nathan Eovaldi when his deep fly ball hooked late and went into the stands. He got a second chance against Eovaldi in the bottom of the 18th, and this time the wolf made sure that foul poles would not be a factor.
“I got 3-0 and he was able to work back two strikes, full count,’’ Muncy said. “The at-bat before, he had got me on a really good backdoor cutter. He had really good stuff all night long and he wasn’t missing a spot. Next at-bat he tried to go backdoor cutter again, but he left this one a little over the plate, and thankfully for me he did that, because I was able to get my bat to it.’’ – Max Muncy
Max Muncy has gone from the basement to the penthouse, where his legend now sits beside fellow Dodgers World Series walkoff home run hitter, Kirk Gibson. Not bad company.