So, I think it’s getting pretty safe to say that Max Muncy will be the primary first baseman for the Dodgers in 2019. And while that’s not really a bad thing, I still really did not expect it.
Going into the offseason, I had little doubt that Muncy would be traded. At the time, he just didn’t look like he fit the roster, Moreover, he was coming off of a season where he saw a greatly reduced role down the stretch.
The Cody Bellinger Addendum
I’ll put this out there: I’m a first baseman. Yes, it’s mostly in slow pitch softball, but still. So with that said, I understand and respect what a good-to-elite 1B can do for an infield. Now with that said, I strongly prefer Cody Bellinger over Max Muncy at first base. When you can put a Gold-Glove caliber player at a position, you usually do that. However, with the now depleted outfield, you almost have to play Cody in center field.
I’ve been known to have called Cody a “wishy washy” player often enough — just listen to any one of more than a handful of episodes of the Blue Heaven Podcast — and I stand by that statement (or assessment, if you’re a less-than-professional scout like myself). Of course, Belli can be, and is, an elite outfielder… when he’s engaged. You will see the lapses in concentration from time to time. However, you will never see Cody “take a play off” at first base. That means something to a team. – my 2 cents –
Back to Max
Now with Mr. Muncy, I feel that everyone knows he’s not the most adept fielder on the team. While we saw improvement in his defense as the 2018 season progressed, he’s still no Cody at 1B. For what it’s worth, I’m basing that statement on my “eye test”. Fangraphs will tell you that Muncy had a UZR/150 of -0.6, which is less than good (Bellinger: 2.3 UZR/150).
With all of that said — like I said at the start of this, it’s still not really a bad thing that Max is around, or that he will be the team’s primary first baseman in 2019.
Because he can hit.
18th inning heroics aside, we’re talking about a guy that led the team in homeruns in 2018, and is already (boldly) predicted to lead the team in HRs again in 2019. From our Brian Robitaille’s latest article, which is a good piece you should read:
Personally, I don’t think Muncy will succumb to a drastic fall-off in 2019. His approach really seems to indicate he has turned into a legit major league hitter, and one that can hit for power. I like his chances to lead the team in homeruns if he can get regular playing time, which he certainly should.
Potential Fall Off
A while back, I asked Twitter this question:
Genuinely interested here, what are people's feelings on Max Muncy going into 2019?
Talking about this on an upcoming #BlueHeaven Podcast.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) November 3, 2018
There is plenty of Muncy love to go around on the internet, and in this case, a clear majority feel that Max will be as good, or better, in 2019.
Compared to his career stats, 2018 on paper looks like a fluke season.
However, visually you see the sustainability in the mechanical change from those early years. (Eye test coming at you!)
Significant change, that made an astronomical difference!! pic.twitter.com/kv8UtYU2FX
— The Pure Swing (@thepureswingsd) November 9, 2018
Given that the Dodgers have plenty of fallback plans if Muncy falters…
- Cody Bellinger
- David Freese
- Edwin Rios (.837 OPS in AAA in 2018, and recently added to the 40-man roster)
- Kiké Hernandez in tight pants
…I’m fine with Max Muncy, 2019 Dodgers first baseman.
[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-2019-spring-training-tickets-on-sale-monday/2019/01/05/” type=”big” color=”red”] Spring Training tickets on sale starting Monday![/button]