Max Muncy Relishes Underdog Persona for NLCS

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 07: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves during Game Three of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 7, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Max Muncy is embracing the postseason spotlight. The Los Angeles Dodgers infielder is leading National League hitters with home runs (2) and has generated four RBIs in four games. Along with his teammate Manny Machado, Muncy has been the driving force of the batting for the Dodgers, trying to get his team back to its second consecutive World Series. He admits that there were nerves as the postseason began, but confident that he can be a critical asset for the Dodgers’ NLCS success against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“There’s so much experience there. There’s no panic, there’s no worry,” said Muncy. “They’re all calm as can be. That kind of resonates through me. If it wasn’t for those guys, then maybe it’s a different story.”

Muncy Underachieves with Oakland Athletics

Muncy attended Baylor University, eager to achieve the baseball dream. As teammate Ross Stripling recalls playing at rival school Texas A&M, Muncy had solid fundamentals that made him a hitter no pitcher would want to face.

“He was a guy that was always going to command the strike zone and just going to be just an absolute brutal matchup because he spits on good pitches, he commands the zone and puts the bat on the ball and walks,” Stripling said.

In the fifth-round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Muncy was selected to join the Oakland Athletics. But the utility player struggled during his tenure with the A’s. In 95 games played with the Athletics, Muncy hit a measly .195/.290/.321 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. It was no surprise that Oakland parted ways with the 28-year old in 2017.

To Muncy, it looked like his career was over. Until the Los Angeles Dodgers took a chance on him.

Muncy Delivers Breakout Season for Dodgers

Muncy was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee. He was sent down to Los Angeles’ minor league Oklahoma City squad. But the myriad of injuries for the Dodgers gave Muncy an opportunity to make the starting lineup. On his second at-bat facing the San Diego Padres, the infielder blasted his first home run in 20 months. The rest is now history.

Muncy would finish the season with 35 home runs and 79 RBIs, hitting .263/.391/.582. He would make an appearance in the Home-Run Derby, defeating Chicago Cubs Javier Baez and losing to the eventual champion Bryce Harper.

But his marquee game cam in Game 1 of the NLDs against the Atlanta Braves. Muncy came to the plate with runners on first and second, after Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz hit Joc Pederson with a pitch and walked Justin Turner with two outs. Muncy blasted a three-run home run, putting a stamp on the Dodgers Game 1 6-0 rout. All of these moments in the spotlight, Muncy relishes and appreciates all of them.

“To be able to help out this team the entire year the way we have it’s just been something that’s been very special,” Muncy said.

Muncy Eager to Help Dodgers in NLCS

After the magic of the NLDS, Max “Maximum” Muncy has his sights aimed higher. The Los Angeles Dodgers hope to advance to the World Series as they take on a red-hot Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS. The 96-win Brewers have boasted a tremendous lineup, headlined by likely NL MVP Christian Yelich and a dominant bullpen. Muncy recognizes that it will be a tough NLCS but believes in his team’s preparation and experience to get them back to the Fall Classic.

“Coming into this series as it’s been mentioned, we know their strength is their bullpen, so those are kind of the guys you focus on,” states Muncy. “But as far as the preparation, I think I can speak for everyone in that clubhouse. They all show up every single day and prepare like they’re starting that day even if they’re not. That’s one of the things that makes us so good is that every single person in there prepares every single day like they’re going to be playing.”

It has been a long, unexpected ride for Muncy. In April, he was freezing cold playing in the minors in Oklahoma City. Now, on Friday night, he will be playing on the big stage against the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS. Baseball can be a beautiful, yet harsh, game. But if you put in the hard work every day, eventually success follows. Every moment helping the Los Angeles Dodgers achieve a world championship brings joy to the journeyman infielder, who is looking to add more postseason history in October.

“I never would have thought I could be in this kind of position. When I got picked up by the Dodgers, I got a chance given to me,” stated Muncy. “It’s been documented this year all the changes I had made. The most important ones being mentally. So to be able to get to this point has been an incredible reward and an incredible journey.”

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