Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire
It seems fitting to talk about Max Muncy on Independence Day. After all, the story of America has many parallels with the arc of Muncy’s career. Humble beginnings, years of struggle and hardship, and eventually freedom and the explosion of unfettered potential. Both Muncy and America love to launch bombs, too. There truly is no player more American than Max Muncy.
I planted my flag on Muncy a few weeks back, and his 3-4, 2 HR performance yesterday gave proof through the night that that flag was still there. That’s now 20 homers on the season for Muncy in just 63 games, and 14 of those have come in his last 30 games, during which time he’s batting .313. The xStats back it all up too: he’s got a 10.9% VH and 14.4% PH, and his .390 xBACON and .622 xSlug are actually above what he’s posted so far in those categories. This indicates that he should have actually performed even better than he has this year based on his batted ball data. He’s now the Dodgers’ starting second baseman, which will add to the first base and third base eligibility he already has, and he is a must-add in all formats played in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox): 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB – Guys like Bogaerts can be so frustrating, because projecting their offensive output every year is almost impossible. He’s been all over the map with his power, speed, and batting averages throughout his career. He’s no longer running anymore, with just two stolen bases, but he’s got 13 homers and a career-high .228 ISO, and is pacing towards his best season power-wise. The 16.9% HR/FB seems a little flukey, but he is hitting the ball harder and in the air more this year. Good luck figuring out where the rest of his numbers will fall though.
J.D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI – Take a guess at what Martinez is hitting this year. Nope. Try again. Nope, not that either. You know how I know you’re wrong? Because he’s hitting .325, and nobody would guess that. Martinez is having an unbelievable year so far, with 26 home runs already, and he should be in the conversation for American League MVP by season’s end. I didn’t say he’d win, don’t @ me.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 2-5, HR – I’d like to refer to Albies as “The Racist Dragon,” in reference to the Flight of the Conchords song “Albi the Racist Dragon,” but I have a feeling nobody would get the reference and I’d be looked at like a weirdo. Which I guess wouldn’t be all that different from how things are now. The ebb and flow of Albies’ season continues, as he’s been heating up again after a bit of a cold spell, batting .348 over his last 15 games with two homers.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – The gains Stanton made last year in his contact ability and plate discipline have eroded a bit this season, as his whiff, contact, chase, and contact rates are all notably worse than they were in 2017. That said, not many guys can slash .267/.339/.509 with 20 homers in the first half and have it be considered a down year, and he’s looked much more comfortable in the box lately. Expect a vintage second half.
Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves): 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB – Markakis is now sixth in baseball with his .326 batting average, and is up to 10 home runs on the year. Hitting in the stacked Braves lineup has given him plenty of opportunities to rack up counting stats too, with 58 RBI and 52 runs. It’s looking like a career year for Markakis at 34 years old.
Aaron Hicks (OF, New York Yankees): 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB – Hicks is in the midst of a power outburst with eight homers over his last 15 games. He’s cut down on his grounders this year and is making 42% hard contact, so expect the homers to keep coming.
Wilson Ramos (C, Tampa Bay Rays): 2-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB – Ramos is now second among all catchers in wRC+ this year, just behind J.T. Realmuto. He’s boosted his average to .291 with 12 homers with this performance, though his 50% groundball rate may cap his power contributions going forward
Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB – I truly feel like Thames has elite power that he hasn’t fully tapped into yet, and his batted ball profile indicates it’s only a matter of time before it’s fully unleashed. A 48.9% flyball rate, 47.7% pull rate, and 46.6% hard contact rate are the perfect combination for big-time power production, and he’s already up to 12 homers in just 149 plate appearances. He’s a guy I’d be looking to add before his price skyrockets.
Mark Trumbo (OF, Baltimore Orioles): 2-3, HR, BB – Eight of Trumbo’s 11 homers have come over his last 15 games, and he’s hitting .315 over that span. His career-high 42% hard contact rate is nice, but he still struggles to make contact, with a 14.2% whiff rate and 38.9% chase rate. He’s got 30-homer power, but don’t expect an average much higher than .250.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Chicago White Sox): 3-6, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB – That’s now seven homers for Garcia in 30 games, and his hard contact is up 10 percentage points from last year, to 45% so far. His strikeout rate is way up though, and he’s got an 18% whiff rate, so don’t expect anything close to the .330 average he posted last year.
Daniel Palka (OF, Chicago White Sox): 2-6, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB – Palka flashed some solid power in the minors, so his nine homers through 55 games this year isn’t that surprising. That said, with a 31% strikeout rate and 16% whiff rate, don’t expect the .235 average to rise much higher.
David Freese (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates): 3-3, HR, 3 RBI – Freese has been platooned primarily against left-handed pitching, and he’s made the most of it, hitting .267 with five homers in just 146 plate appearances. Don’t expect playing time to increase anytime soon as long as Colin Moran is around, though.
Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI – It wasn’t long ago we were lamenting the step back Arenado had taken in the power department this year. He then rattled off nine homers in his last 15 games, giving him 22 on the season and putting him right back in line for another 40-homer season. He’s as hot as anyone in the game right now. Except maybe Max Muncy.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – It’s been a pretty disappointing year for Blackmon, as he’s hitting just .275 so far after posting a .331 average last year. His hard contact rate has plummeted from 39% to 32.9%, and he’s hitting more balls on the ground, which is making it harder to maintain a BABIP anywhere near the .371 he had in 2017. With 15 homers so far, at least the power’s there. However, he’s stolen just five bases, and may be overtaken on the stolen base leaderboards by a scrappy little speedster named Zack Greinke if he’s not careful.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Cleveland Indians): 3-3, R, RBI – I think Alonso has settled into his new profile as a hitter; he’s essentially a 25-homer guy who will hit .265 over a full season. And that’s fine. After getting a little too drunk on the launch angle Kool-Aid last year, it’s nice to see him cut down a bit on the flyballs and improve his contact rates, and he’s hitting the ball harder than he did last season too. He’s not a bad guy to fill a corner infield roster spot.
ROS, CI…..Alonso or Lamb?
I think I’d take Alonso there, but they’re very similar players. The fact that Alonso hasn’t struggled quite as badly against lefties in his career gives him the edge for me.
Valid point. I just like Lamb’s position in the order better. However that might be mitigated by the advantage to LHHs in Cleveland home park.
Not sure what the xStats ever tell you… you can just use the real outcomes and get a similarly flawed story. One is how a computer thinks it should have gone and the other is how it actually went. Personally, I will take the actual results as they are more accurate and its a better model – it has shifts and everything. Last I checked the model for determining value of batted balls was the same for left and right handed hitters?! Neither one hold any great truths – in Muncy’s case you can look at any metric and see that the dude is en fuego! Crazy how the Dodgers always have someone who is doing something crazy – over the past few years its been Muncy, Kemp, Bellinger, Taylor etc.
My team name is Albies the Racist Dragon. And I wrote this on my camera phone.
Would you trade away Muncy for Pham? I just got that trade proposal…