Dodgers News: Max Muncy Knows He Can Play Good Defense at Third Base
One of the top candidates for the “it’s still early” award is Max Muncy. The start of this season has been a trial for the third baseman. Coming off a winter where he was healthy and excited to put 2022 behind him, Muncy’s struggles for the Dodgers are amplified by the small sample size effect.
For some fans it’s here we go again. For Max, it’s just a lot of bad luck compounding. He talked about the issues he’s having following Thursday night’s win in Arizona.
“When things are going bad, they’re going bad. I’m in between on everything and getting some tricky hops and I’m not putting myself in a position to handle them.” … “I feel I’m a very good defender over there, but like I said, when things go bad, they go bad,” he said. “You get a couple bad hops, put yourself in a couple bad positions. You get a ball seven inches off the plate called a strike. It’s just one of those things that when things go bad, they go bad. That’s the beauty of baseball.”Via Bill Plunkett, OC Register
If you’ve been watching games, you probably know what Muncy is talking about with the bad hitting luck. He’s had some tough strikes called against him. He’s also hit the hell out of the baseball only to see it go right to defenders.
That’s easy to attribute to bad luck. But his defensive issues, that’s on him.
Muncy leads the team in errors with 2 — and that’s being a little generous on the scorekeeper’s side of things. He’s looked a little unsure on the backhand plays and has missed a couple right at him.
“So far, it hasn’t been great,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said when asked to assess Muncy’s defense at third base in the opening week of the season. … “So the hops are playing differently,” Roberts said. “It’s coming off a little more different than we’re used to. No excuse. And Max is well aware of that. But he’s a good defender. He’s just in a little funk right now.”
The infielder talked about the defensive issues he’s had at Dodger Stadium attributing some of the hops to the field not being in as ideal of shape due in part to all the rain Southern California has seen over the last few months. But that’s not a great excuse. He told DodgersNation.com during the spring that he’s comfortable at third after spending most of last season playing the position.
Hopefully by the time we get to October, all of this is just a footnote in the Max Muncy season story for 2023. But if things go beyond a few weeks, the conversation on whether he should be at third base full time going forward will need to be had.
Max needs to start swinging at strikes right down the middle. Needs to square them up instead fouling everything off and then being relegated to hitting pitchers pitches. I know, easy to say, hard to do…but that’s what separates the good hitters from the mediocre. Good hitters know how to square up pitches right down the middle. See Freddie Freemink.