In 2009, Muncy graduated from Keller High School in Keller, TX, where he was All-State and an Under Armour All-American. He hit 22 home runs and 46 doubles over his 3-year high school career, after playing football as a freshman. The Indians chose him in the 49th round, but he chose Baylor, instead.
Max was off to Baylor University on a baseball scholarship. He broke the freshman record for home runs (11) and RBI (53) in 2010.
Muncy had two impressive summers in the Cape Cod League (2010 and 2011).
In 2012, the A's drafted Max (see Transactions below).
In 2013, Baseball America rated Muncy as the 16th-best prospect in the A's organization. They moved him up to #6 in the winter before 2014 spring training. Max was at #8 in the offseason before 2015 spring camps opened. Max was the A's 13th-best prospect in the spring of 2016.
When Muncy is not playing baseball or working out, he says he's usually off hunting or fishing. He considers himself just a down-home country boy.
Max says sports have always been a passion of his, and growing up as the youngest of three brothers in an area with lots of access to the outdoors helped him cultivate the competitive spirit that led him to pro ball.
Max compiled an impressive resume in the spring of 2015. "It's very encouraging," Muncy said of his spring performance. "You never want to come in and not make any contact with the ball. So you get a couple hits, it's good, it makes you feel better and also helps you ease into it a little bit. You don't feel like you're stressing to try to get a hit."
"I felt like I was seeing the ball great," he said. "My biggest thing was to get myself in a good hitting position early, so timing isn't too big of an issue when you do that. I saw the ball out of the pitcher's hands was all I was doing."
"I had a few kinks here and there in the field," Muncy said of the move to third base. "So that's a little bit of a transition phase, but I'll be fine. It's just a lot of work every day and it'll get better."
Muncy's efforts have caught the eye of A's manager Bob Melvin. "He's a little gamer," Melvin said. "He's made a couple errors, but watching him in pregame stuff and drills and so forth, he handles himself very well. He's a nice player." (Thornburg - mlb.com - 3/18/15)
"When you're sitting there at home, you realize you have to make a change," recalled Max about his being without a job in the spring of 2017, "because what you're doing before wasn't really working."
A little more than a year ago, Muncy didn't have a place in the baseball world. After parts of five years in Oakland's system, the A's released him just before Opening Day. Muncy remained unemployed for nearly a month, eventually scoring a Triple-A gig with the Dodgers in late April.
It's safe to say that things have changed. In 2018, Muncy is regularly hitting second for a surging Dodgers lineup, one that's been the National League's best since May 15. He leads the team with 13 homers, and if he had enough plate appearances to qualify, he'd have baseball's sixth-best slugging percentage. Muncy is even becoming something of a fan favorite, scoring his own T-shirt and theme song based on an on-air back-and-forth between the team's broadcaster, Joe Davis, and organist, Dieter Ruehle.
This has become something of a recent theme for the Dodgers, picking up essentially free talent and finding or creating stars out of them, most notably with Justin Turner and Chris Taylor. It's easy to think that Muncy is simply the next in line, that a retooled swing pushed by a hitting guru helped get the ball off the ground and unlock the talent within.
That might be how this story ends, but it's not how it begins. Muncy didn't go to a fancy swing coach. He went to his dad—a geologist. "He knows my swing better than anybody," said Muncy when asked about his father. "So [it was] kind of me and him working on it together."
When Muncy was between teams last year, his father threw to him "almost every single day." But for all the talk of mechanical changes, the word that Muncy keeps coming back to is "confidence."
"When I was with Oakland," said Muncy, "I was laying off the bad pitches, but … because I had lost confidence in myself, I wasn't able to get my barrel to the ball like I should, like I am now. I wasn't chasing bad pitches when I was over there, I just wasn't squaring up the pitches I was supposed to be squaring up, whereas now, I'm squaring those pitches up—and that's where all the difference is coming from.
"From Day 1 [in Triple-A in 2017], it's, 'All right, let's start implementing the changes I'd made,'" Muncy said. "At first, it started off as just excitement to be playing, then after getting a couple hits here and there, starting to get back on my feet, realizing this works a little better than what I used to be doing, then confidence-wise, it just started building from there. It was almost like a snowball effect.
"The more hits I got the more confident I felt in the changes I'd made, and then before I knew it, it felt natural, and it was kind of just, from that point on, I'd regained all the mental confidence I'd had."
Muncy is now a relied-upon run producer for a perennial contender looking for their sixth straight division title. One imagines confidence is no longer an issue. (Pietriello - mlb.com - 6/19/18)
In 2017, Chris Taylor emerged from seemingly nowhere to make a big splash. In 2018, Max has emerged with the Dodgers. He's quickly become one of the best players in the league, crushing home runs. But do you know anything else about him? Here's a quick primer to make you Muncy-Proficient.
1. He didn't completely come out of nowhere.
Though Muncy struggled in 2015-16 with the Athletics, he was actually a bit of a prospect during his time in the Minors. Drafted in the fifth round by the A's in 2012, he topped out at No. 10 in Oakland's system heading into the 2014 season. While Muncy never displayed much power in the Minor Leagues outside of a 21-homer barrage in the offense-friendly Cal League, scouts always knew this breakout was a possibility. His MLB Pipeline report noted, "He has always had solid pop waiting to be unlocked."
2. He was a star in college.
Before reaching professional ball, Muncy was a starter for three years with the Baylor Bears. Playing primarily first base, Muncy hit .311 with 27 home runs and was a two-time All-Big 12 honoree. He also held the school record for most putouts at 1,623 when he was drafted.
3. While in college, he got to play at Fenway Park.
The slugger played two seasons for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League, which is widely known as the premier collegiate summer wood bat league. Named to the All-Star team in 2011, Muncy got to play at Fenway Park—where he has only played once in his big league career. (He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as an Athletic in 2015.) Muncy's Cape Cod League teammates included Brewers pitcher Brent Suter, Rays outfielder Johnny Field and fellow burly slugger in the White Sox' Daniel Palka.
4. His first professional at-bat resulted in a home run.
Though Muncy may not have hit for much power in the Minor Leagues, his 2018 breakout was destined to be. In his first professional game for the Burlington Bees, Muncy took pitcher David Goforth deep. That was the only hit that Goforth allowed in five innings pitched.
5. He's incredibly patient at the plate.
In 2018, he has the second-highest walk rate among all players with at least 200 plate appearances, behind only Mike Trout. He swings at only 14.8 percent of pitches out of the zone—the fifth-lowest rate in the Majors.
6. He'll play all over the field.
Though he's a big guy and is primarily a first baseman, Muncy has seen time at third, left field, and even second base. It was something he always wanted to do after he was drafted. "[Playing first base] got me drafted. It got me where I am today," he said in 2013. "Maybe down the road I'd like to play something a little different than first, but, until then, I'll play first as long as it gets me where I want to go."
7. The nickname wars.
Obviously with 20 homers in such a short period of time [before the 2018 All Star game], people are looking to give him a nickname. Some have gone with the post-apocalyptic "Mad Max." Meanwhile, others are pushing for "Maximum Muncy." Other than the debate over whether the slugger can keep it up, this is the biggest question during Muncy's breakout season. (Clair - mlb.com - 7/5/18)
In 2018, Muncy participated in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Max pitched 3 times in the minor leagues (Oklahoma City). He held the other team scoreless in all the outings.
Muncy got married on November 17, 2018.
Max's father is a geologist.
Pigskin vs. Horsehide. A lifelong Texan, Maxwell Steven Muncy was born in Midland and was drafted in the 41st round of the 2009 draft by the Indians, out of Keller High School. Muncy played just about every position for the Keller Indians while leading them deep into the playoffs almost every year he was there. Muncy focused on baseball his sophomore year at Keller after a family discussion about his future led to his decision to quit football. A two-way player, he was a gifted running back and linebacker.
“It’s Texas! All the coaches [were] saying you need to play football,” Muncy, who was concerned a football injury would jeopardize his baseball career, told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram in August 2016. “You see that happen all the time. Football is a rough sport. You never know what’s going to happen. You can be the healthiest person out there and suddenly a guy falls into your knee, and not even on purpose, and you’re done.”
Growing up a Texas Rangers fan, Muncy’s childhood hero was infielder Michael Young, but being a lefthanded hitter, he also faithfully followed third baseman Hank Blalock‘s career. Muncy’s high school focus on baseball led him to Baylor, where he was earning All-Big 12 first-team accolades by 2011, mostly as a second baseman. To Muncy, at the time, the big leagues looked like a distinct possibility.
“It got me into Baylor and I loved every second of that,” he said. “I don’t regret that at all. It got me here.” ( Brad Kyle-The Runner Sports-Oct. 23, 2018)
Max’s story of going from out of baseball to a 35-homer Dodger has been well chronicled. He took Father’s Day 2019 to pay tribute to one of his key influencers, his father, Lee, who lives in Texas but spent this weekend with his son in Los Angeles.
“I owe my whole career to my dad, really,” said Muncy. “He taught me everything I knew. He coached me until high school, and even then he was coaching me on the side. In pro ball, he was always the one watching as many games as he can, whether it was a bad internet feed, looking at film I’d send him.
“When I was released from baseball for a couple months, he was the one that got me back on my feet, reminding me how much I love the game. So, really I owe my entire career to him and without him I wouldn’t be here. He’s staying with me right now and I get to spend time with him and there’s nothing better than that.” (Gurnick - mlb.com - 6/16/19)
July 6, 2019: Muncy took the place of injured Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon at the 2019 All Star Game. He joins previously announced Dodgers teammates Cody Bellinger, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, giving the Dodgers the most All-Stars in the NL. It’s the first official All-Star berth for the 28-year-old Muncy, who competed in the 2018 T-Mobile Home Run Derby while in the midst of a breakout season that he has continued this year.
July 16, 2019: Muncy received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Dodgers. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
2019 Season: Max Muncy came off the scrap heap to slug 35 homers in 2018 and the skeptics said, "Nice, but do it again."
So, he did. Muncy also upped his RBIs by nearly 20 in 2019, made his first All-Star appearance and was one of the bats in the Dodgers' lineup that didn’t disappear in the National League Division Series defeat to the Nationals.He improved his defense enough to be interchangeable at first base and second base, but also appeared in 35 games at third base as the primary backup for Justin Turner.In short, Muncy showed in '19 that his '18 was no fluke.
What went right?In addition to duplicating the 35 homers, the 29-year-old Muncy set career highs in games played (141), runs scored (101), hits (122), doubles (22), RBIs (98), walks (90) and stolen bases (4). He slugged a two-run homer in the Dodgers’ Game 5 NLDS elimination by the Nationals. And he famously told Madison Bumgarner “to go get it out of the ocean” when the infuriated Giants pitcher screamed at Muncy not to watch his splash homer sail into McCovey Cove at Oracle Park.
“There is definitely a little more satisfaction because coming into this year, all I heard people talking about was, ‘Oh, teams are going to make the adjustment. You’re not going to be able to do what you did last year,’” Muncy told Dodgers Insider. “Why can’t it work on both sides? Why can’t hitters make the adjustment? It kind of aggravated me a little bit to hear all these people saying all these things. I wanted to go out and prove I can still be a very productive player that I was [in 2018].”
What went wrong? Not much. He was consistently productive against right-handed and left-handed pitching, even though his batting average dipped in the second half, especially when he rushed back from a fractured right wrist.
Best moment: On June 9, Muncy homered off Bumgarner, which was reason enough for Muncy to be a fan favorite. But the ensuing exchange is already legendary. Bumgarner yelled at Muncy for watching it, prompting Muncy’s epic response -- “If you don’t like me watching the ball, you can go get it out of the ocean.” T-shirts couldn’t be silk-screened fast enough.
2020 outlookNow that he’s done it twice, Muncy no longer must prove he can produce. He’ll be expected to. With his power and plate discipline, Muncy will be an everyday presence in the lineup. He’ll probably play primarily at first base, but he could slide over to second depending on Gavin Lux’s role. (Ken Gurnick - MLB.com - Nov. 5, 2019)
June 2012: The A's chose Max in the 5th round, out of Baylor University, signing him for $240,000, via scout Armann Brown.
- April 28, 2017: The Dodgers signed free agent Max.
|Birth City:||Midland, TX|
|Draft:||A's #5 - 2012 - Out of Baylor Univ. (TX)|
Muncy has a short lefthanded stroke. He barrels the ball consistently. He has shown power to his pull side. How much power? In 2013, he hit 15 of his 25 homers in 2013 in Stockton, in a park that favors lefthanded hitters.
Max sees himself as a line-drive hitter, but he has worked on adding loft to the ball to hit home runs. He may hit 15 or even 20 per year when he matures as a hitter. (July, 2013)
Midway through the 2013 season, Muncy made an adjustment in his swing that he said reduced topspin to his pull side while increasing backspin.
"Power has always been there," said Muncy, listed at six-foot, 200 pounds. "It was just getting the ball to travel better. When it has top-spin, it doesn't go very far."
Scouts like Muncy for his ability to hit for a nice batting average, because his pitch-recognition skills are second to none in the A's system and his short swing allows him to stay inside the ball for a gap-to-gap approach.
Muncy has a disciplined approach at the plate. He controls the strike zone well. He has an outstanding batting eye with the best pitch recognition skills in the A's organization in 2013.
He's an intelligent player who should provide a nice on-base-percentage every season. Max receives high praise for having good plate judgment and being able to put together good at-bats, as well as being able to adjust and learn quickly.
He continues to work on his approach, and once the games start, he has one good at-bat after another; solid off-the-bat contact. He puts himself in a very good position to hit. (May, 2014)
The A’s try to teach hitters pitch identification during instructional league by having them watch pitchers on big screens. Muncy consistently scored the top grades in the drills, during the fall of 2012.
Muncy believes his biggest need is to improve his hitting against lefthanders. And you could tell in 2014, that he has grown far more comfortable hitting vs. lefties.
And he is now able to use the whole field better and playing to his strength—staying inside the ball. His swing doesn’t feature much length, so he’s able to cover all parts of the zone. Plate discipline is a Muncy hallmark.
Max always seems to provide a tough at-bat. He just waits and waits for his pitch. "My main goal’s always getting my pitch to hit,” Muncy said. “Taking close pitches and getting walks just comes with that. I really can’t explain it, but that’s always been something I’ve done. I don’t really know how much training you can do for that.”
- April 25, 2015: Muncy spelled banged-up Lawrie and got his first hit of his major League career. The infielder impressed at spring training camp making his big league debut at third. (J Lee - MLB.com - April 25, 2015)
2014 Season: Max led the Texas League in walks (87) and on-base percentage (.385) in 2014.
Muncy made it clear he doesn't pay much attention to advanced metrics, but that doesn't mean we can't use them to tell his story. He's not wrong about "laying off the bad pitches," because that's always been a strength of his.
In 2015, only 35 hitters (of 409) chased fewer non-strikes than Muncy did. In 2016, only seven hitters (of 413) chased fewer non-strikes than Muncy did. In 2017, only three Triple-A hitters with as many plate appearances had a higher walk rate.
Thus far in 2018, only five hitters (of 289) have chased fewer non-strikes than Muncy, and we're talking names like Joey Votto, Joe Mauer and Mookie Betts.
So we know that Muncy has had elite plate discipline, an incredibly valuable skill that's difficult to teach. (Pietriello - mlb.com - 6/19/18)
July 3, 2018: Muncy became the fastest Dodger to 20 home runs in a season, passing Cody Bellinger who did it in 189 at-bats in 2017.
2018 Improvements: “Muncy,” as ESPN explains, “joined the wave of players who have adjusted their approaches in an effort to lift the ball. Like Justin Turner, Muncy is something of an ideal candidate for adaptation because of his hand-eye coordination and ability to make contact. “He explained in the [visitor’s] clubhouse [this summer] that the changes were not really to his swing but to the mechanics setting up his swing and allowing him to hit underneath the ball.”
In 2018, Muncy established himself as one of the top power bats in baseball, and a terrifying weapon for the Dodgers to have. And for all the talk of how he slowed in July, he slugged .574 in September and October during the regular season and hit three homers in the postseason … including a particularly memorable one in the World Series.
2019 Season: Remember when Muncy was a really cool story (released by the A's in 2017, signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers and spent a year in the Minors retooling his swing mechanics)?
He’s way past that now thanks to 2018 and '19 seasons that established him as one of baseball’s best players. Muncy showed in '19 that his '18 was no fluke. In addition to duplicating the 35 homers, the 29-year-old Muncy set career highs in games played (141), runs scored (101), hits (122), doubles (22), RBIs (98), walks (90) and stolen bases (4).
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Muncy had career big league stats of: .244 with 75 home runs and 194 RBI in 1,097 at-bats.
- Max played first base at Baylor. But he is athletic and can play another position. He was a catcher for a bit in high school, and he played a couple of games at second base. He is pretty athletic.
Muncy really showed improvement defensively at 2nd base right from the start, in 2020. His hands are both softer and smoother -- and his reactions are quicker, too.
Muncy displays good hands at first base. He is rather nimble around the bag and has enough arm strength that some scouts can envision left field as an option.
In 2014, the A's tried Max out at 3rd base. And though he is not very athletic, he is a fundamentally sound defender with good hands and enough arm to play there, at least occasionally.
- Max is very diligent at working on his defense. He does a good job at either corner infield position. His arm is solid to get by at third base.
- Max has just enough speed so that he is not a base-clogger. He has below-average speed, though.
May 8-22, 2014: Muncy was on the D.L. with a bruised thumb. He was hit by a thrown ball as he tried to break up a double play at second base.
- November 2015: Max didn't play much winter ball n Mexico because he suffered a strained oblique muscle after playing just 7 games.
Aug 28, 2019: The initial team report on Max Muncy’s right wrist was a contusion, but that was also the initial report on teammate Chris Taylor, and he missed five weeks with a forearm fracture. So, Muncy was cautiously optimistic that, despite continued pain, he’ll escape the same fate, even if he needs to miss a few days while the swelling and discomfort subside.
“I was thinking the same thing [when it happened] as I am right now. It hurt,” Muncy said after leaving the 6-4 win over the Padres in the fifth inning after being drilled by a 94.1 mph Matt Strahm fastball.
“Got me good. Everything looks OK for now. Maybe just a bone bruise. We’ll double-check it. From everything I’ve been told, we’ll check it tomorrow and keep our fingers crossed. It will still be a timetable for return, but we’re hoping it’s good news.”
Aug 30-Sept 13, 2019: Muncy was on the IL with right wrist fracture. An MRI on Muncy’s right wrist revealed a small fracture. Muncy is optimistic that he won’t be out more than two weeks.