Saturday, May 28, 2022
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2022
Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers placed Max Muncy on the IL and recalled Kevin Pillar.
At no time during this season, Muncy has looked like himself, and now, the Dodgers did not have a choice of putting him on the IL. The Dodgers believe Muncy will not be on the IL for more than three weeks, but they do not know.
On Sunday, October 3, 2021, Muncy dislocated his left elbow and tore his UCL. Unlike most baseball players, Muncy did not undergo Tommy John surgery to repair his torn UCL, but he could not play during the 2021 postseason, partly causing the Dodgers’ early exit from the playoffs.
Before spring training, during the lockout, Muncy told Alanna Rizzo of the MLB Network that his elbow would not be right for a year. However, he played through spring training and started on Opening Day.
Starting in 2018, Muncy has been one of the most reliable Dodger power hitters. His superior knowledge of the strike zone enables him to reach base regularly without getting a hit. During his Dodger tenure, he has had many crucial hits. After a poor 2020 season performance since he had a broken ring finger, he played an integral role in the Dodger 2020 postseason run that ended in a world championship. In 2021, Muncy was the Dodger MVP when he had a .249 batting average, .895 OPS, 36 home runs, and 94 RBI.
This season, Muncy has had no power. While he is second in walks in the Major Leagues, he lost his aggressiveness within the strike zone. He hit .150 with 3 home runs and 14 RBI. His .590 OPS is lousy. On the field, Muncy is visibly frustrated by his poor performance.
Since the Dodgers signed free agent first baseman Freddie Freeman, Muncy was forced to change his position from first base. He is not a good either second baseman or third baseman. However, his defensive struggles are not what causes his offensive toils.
Muncy as a freshman at Baylor University played football. He is tough, so he plays through pain. Sometimes, this is prized in baseball. In any 162-game season, every baseball player experiences pain, and he must play through pain. Muncy is used to playing in pain, but the pain did not make him an awful player.
On Monday, May 23rd, when the Dodgers played against the Washington Nationals, attempting to catch a foul ball, Muncy accidentally bumped his left elbow. After the play, he winced. His performance has hurt the Dodgers’ production. Many “so-called” Dodger fans have criticized Muncy unmercifully, and it has not been helping. On Sunday, May 22nd, when the Dodgers lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, Muncy cried on the field after committing the game-deciding error. Muncy wants to win as bad as anyone does, so he does not need criticism to be motivated.
Unlike in the 2021 postseason, the Dodgers can survive without Muncy playing. The acquisition of Freeman has been the greatest that the Dodgers have made in the last forty-five years, including Mookie Betts who is leading the National League with thirteen home runs.
Since Freeman has been a Dodger, he has performed fantastically. So far in 2022, Freeman has a .307 batting average (13th highest in the National League) with 4 home runs and 28 RBI. His willingness to go to the opposite field has set an excellent example for the younger left-handed-hitting players like Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux.
This year, after a slow start, Betts has displayed why the Dodgers gave him a twelve-year $360 million deal. During May, Betts has hit .347 with 11 home runs. Unlike in 2021, Betts is healthy.
Edwin Ríos has returned to the Dodgers after a major shoulder injury requiring season-ending surgery in May 2021. In 22 games, Ríos has had six home runs. With Muncy out, Ríos will have more opportunities to play.
The Dodgers need Muncy to heal fully before October. Baseball is hard, and when a player is injured, being good at baseball is impossible. Muncy needs Dodger fans’ understanding and compassion.
Saturday, May 28, 2022