In April 2017 the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Max Muncy to a Minor League contract in a deal that didn’t generate much fanfare. He’d appeared in just a combined 96 games for the Oakland Athletics during parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Muncy’s arrival with the Dodgers didn’t come until 2018, as injury dictated his call-up from Triple-A Oklahoma City. What figured to be a temporary solution evolved into the Dodgers finding a diamond in the rough.
“The front office found him and he’s really made a home for himself here. I just don’t know where we would be out him. It’s a great story, it really is. He really epitomizes what we’re all about, kind of just playing the game the right way, hard,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Muncy led the team last year with a career-best 35 home runs, and he matched that total this season. He additionally broke free from being one of the players the Dodgers platooned leading up to and during the 2018 World Series.
So Muncy was in the lineup Thursday night despite the Washington Nationals starting southpaw Patrick Corbin in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. His walk — one of four Corbin issued in the first inning — gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Corbin was wild in his postseason debut and that was magnified by a patient Dodgers lineup. “I think one of the biggest things is he has a really good ability to control his slider,” Muncy said of facing the southpaw.
“He can throw it just in the zone early in the count and make you think you have a chance at it and then once he gets ahead of you he can expand off that. Tonight it just didn’t seem like he had his command and we did a really good job of not chasing balls out of the zone. He gets a lots of chases.
“And we kind of saw he didn’t have his command so the biggest thing was try to keyhole him a little bit and feel like we did a good job of that.”
In his second at-bat against Corbin, Muncy pulled a grounder to the right side that Howie Kendrick booted, with the error allowing a run to score. Muncy later added a two-run base hit in the seventh inning to lead the Dodgers with three RBI.
“I think I’ve documented the biggest changes I made was mental attitude towards the game,” he said after the 6-0 win. “To me it’s kind of been one of the biggest things is these are big games, they’re big moments and you got to try to go out there and enjoy them as much as possible because you don’t know how many there are going to be.
“And when you do that you tend to relax and just play the game. For me that’s the key is just try to go out there and have fun and enjoy it.”