Friday: June 15, 2018
by Brandon Gutierrez
One of the many surprises this year around the league, has been the Dodgers’ Max Muncy. He has been called “This years’ Chris Taylor,” and for good reason. Entering play on Friday, he has a slash line of .277 / .395 / .631. His 1.030 OPS is 5th in MLB (min. 150 PA). His 176 wRC+ trails only Mookie Betts and Mike Trout (min. 150 PA). Last year in Triple A, he hit 12 HRs in 109 games. This year in the majors, Muncy has hit 13 through 46 games. But how is he doing this?
It’s deffinitley not on cutting strikeouts. In 2016 with Oakland, Muncy had a 18.0 K %. This year, 24.8 %. It is also not with walks. 15.0 BB% in 2016, 15.9 BB % this year. It’s not like he is chasing at less pitches. 20.5 O-swing % compared to 19.4 %. So what gives?
What Muncy did do is decrease his groundball rate drastically. 2016, 51.2 %. This year with the Dodgers 33.7 %. His average launch angle went from 10.4 degrees to 16.7.He is also crushing the ball tremendously more than he did with the A’s. 29.2 % hard hit rate compared to 45.7 % with the Dodgers. His average exit velocity has risen to a 91.9 mph from 82.3 mph. All these stats have combined to a 29.4 HR/FB %. and a .445 xWOBA.
What Muncy has really improved on, is crushing pitches he should crush. Below I have two charts of Muncy’s SLG. for each quadrant of the strike zone.
SLG in 2016
SLG in 2018
As you can see, he’s starting to destroy more middle-middle pitches in 2018
In conclusion, Max Muncy has not done anything with his strike outs and walks. But a combination of hitting the ball harder, hitting the ball in the air more, and mashing on pitchers mistakes. Has led to a break out season.
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