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Dodgers’ Max Muncy hits his 100th career home run

Dodgers Max Muncy hits his 100th career home run
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One of the attitude adjustments Max Muncy made when he nearly quit baseball four years ago was to “never look back; you always look forward.” But the Dodgers infielder allowed himself a sneak peek at the rearview mirror after hitting the 100th homer of his career on Sunday.

“I try not to sit back and reflect on it too much, but it does mean a lot where I am now,” Muncy said after crushing a two-run homer to right-center field in the eighth inning of a 5-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. “I went through some rough times. Now we’re in the good times, and we just have to keep it going.”

One hundred big-league homers may not seem like much for a guy who will turn 31 in August, but it is when you consider Muncy’s backstory.

A fifth-round pick of the Oakland Athletics out of Baylor in 2012, Muncy hit .206 with a .660 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, three homers and nine RBIs in 45 games for the A’s in 2015 and .186 with a .565 OPS, two homers and eight RBIs in 51 games in 2016 before being released at the end of spring training in 2017.

His mind filled with self-doubt and his swing in need of renovation, Muncy strongly considered retirement before signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers on April 28, 2017.

The left-handed-hitting Muncy revived his swing at triple-A Oklahoma City that season, batting .309 with a .905 OPS, 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 110 games, and blossomed into a star with the Dodgers in 2018, batting .249 with a .904 OPS, 95 homers and 234 RBIs in 387 games in three-plus seasons.

“Part of me always felt like it was in there, but when you start having failures, you start having your own self-doubts, and on top of that you have so many other people telling you you can’t do things, it’s hard to come back from that,” Muncy said. “But thankfully, I had the right support staff around me to keep it going.”

Muncy made the National League All-Star team in 2018, but he’s taken his game to another level in 2021. He enters Monday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a .281 average, a major league-best .442 on-base percentage, a 1.005 OPS, 13 homers, 30 RBIs and a major league-leading 43 walks in 51 games.

“You could argue that Max, right now, is one of the top two or three baseball players in the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “This is the best all-around baseball he’s played in the big leagues.”

Muncy leads all major league first basemen with five defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs.

He also has the versatility to play second base, which he showed again on Sunday when he made a nice over-the-shoulder running catch of Curt Casali’s pop-up to shallow right-center field in the fourth inning and a leaping catch of Wilmer Flores’ line drive up the middle in the fifth.

Highlights from the Dodgers’ 5-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

“He hits left, he hits right, he takes the walk and can hit to all fields,” Roberts said. “He can play first base at an elite, Gold Glove level, and you can push him to second base to give other guys opportunities and make the team better.”

Muncy credits an adjustment he made to connect with higher-velocity pitches up in the zone with snapping a 14-game slump in which he hit .049 (two for 41) with no homers and one RBI from April 17 through the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs on May 14.

In 22 games since, Muncy has hit .363 (29 for 80) with a 1.256 OPS, 10 homers and 19 RBIs, including a 420-foot blast into the right-field pavilion that pushed him to triple digits in career homers.

“It’s pretty special; it’s a pretty cool number,” Muncy said. “It’s a lot of home runs in the big leagues, and it’s something I never thought I’d get to, especially with how my career started. So for me, it means a lot.”

Muncy said he would have preferred a Dodgers win Sunday over a personal milestone, but he did receive a nice surprise when he got to the clubhouse after the game. A clubhouse employee had already retrieved the 100th home run ball, which Muncy exchanged for an autograph to the fan who caught the ball.

“That was awesome — it definitely puts a big smile on my face,” Muncy said. “Whoever that [fan] was, thank you very much.”





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