Max Muncy’s struggles last season were pretty well-documented. Coming off his 2021 season that prematurely ended on the last day of the regular season due to a fluke injury, Muncy spent all offseason recovering from elbow surgery.
Muncy wasn’t able to have his normal offseason routine, and it showed over the course of the 2022 season. Muncy struggled to be the two-time All-Star he turned into in Los Angeles, and at times felt like more of a liability in the lineup.
However, he was never going to give up on his swing, and worked tirelessly all season to try to get back to where he was before. He talked to Dodgers Nation in an exclusive interview about what that process was like.
“We knew what the problem was,” Muncy said. “I was working too uphill. I couldn’t get my swing to go downhill, whether it was with my shoulders or my hips, I just couldn’t work downhill and that all stemmed from my elbow. When I was coming back from the elbow, when I started getting healthy, I was doing a move that felt comfortable to me, and in the end, even though it was comfortable, it was the wrong move. It was causing me to work uphill, which was causing me to lose bat speed, I was underneath balls, I was fouling them off. When I was making contact, it wasn’t good contact, and so we had to get my swing to work downhill.”
He said they worked for months doing drills in the cage to get his swing to go downhill, and everything in the cages was always working, but when he got into a game, he’d go back to the old swing working uphill. He became very frustrated over those early months of the season.
“It got to a point where I was starting to throw my hands up and just be like, ‘I don’t know what’s going on right now,’ because there would be certain days where it would work, but the majority of the days it wasn’t.”
But then, during their final trip to Colorado in July, Muncy was working in the cage with the hitting coaches, doing what he called a “last ditch effort” to try to fix his swing.
“We literally were just doing different things. I was Happy Gilmore-ing my swing. I was hitting right handed. I was just doing all sorts of stuff and it got to a point where I was like, ‘okay, what else can we try at this point?'”
Since they were in Colorado, they were talking about Nolan Arenado, who does a step back in his swing. One of the hitting coaches suggested he try doing one, because at that point, they had nothing to lose. Muncy gave it a shot, did a few swings and then looked back at the hitting coaches, who were both just smiling at him.
“Your body is in perfect position for how you need to swing,” Muncy said they told him.
Muncy took a couple more swings and then went to batting practice. He said it felt awkward, but figured he should stick with it because it couldn’t get much worse. At the time, he was hitting .158.
In the game, he hit three low line drives, which he hadn’t been doing all year, so they went with it for the rest of the year. And that “last ditch effort” is what really started to turn his season around.
Muncy slowly worked his average back up, getting all the way back to the .200 level towards the end of the season. He had a lot more confidence in his approach, and even earned himself a contract extension in late-August.
Now, however, Muncy is looking to put that step back move in the past, and go back to being the old Max Muncy.
“I’m trying to phase it out,” Muncy said. “Now that I’ve had a full offseason getting stronger and getting healthy, the past couple weeks that I’ve been starting my swing I’m doing no step back. I’m trying to make sure that I’m very cognizant of what my body is doing. I’m checking the film on it and trying to make sure I’m working downhill. It’s something that I don’t like the extra movement in the timing aspect of it, so I would like to not have to do it. But I know it’s there if I need it.”
If all goes well for Muncy this offseason, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing the pre-elbow injury Max Muncy in 2023. We started to see signs of it at the end of 2022, but with a full offseason of work, Muncy feels confident that he can get back to being that All-Star caliber player in the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup. And with all the losses the Dodgers suffered in their lineup this offseason, they could really use it.
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