Los Angeles Dodgers' Top Bounce-Back Candidate for 2023

When a player has three consecutive full seasons sporting longball totals of 35 HR, 35 HR and 36 HR, and then follows that up with a .196 average and just 21 homers, he automatically becomes a bounce-back candidate. But for the Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy, there are reasons aplenty why he could get back to being himself in 2023. 

Manager Dave Roberts says of Muncy this spring, “this is as good as I’ve seen Max — body and mind — since I’ve come over here.” 

2022 was a story of injuries and bad luck for the Dodgers' versatile slugger. Muncy finished 2021 with a torn left UCL in his elbow. There's no question that injury lingered into last season, as he was even placed on the injured list with elbow inflammation in May. 

On top of that, Muncy had to deal with a brutally low BABIP — batting average on balls in play. This is often largely a metric of luck: are you hitting them where they ain't? As of July 31st, Muncy's BABIP was a ridiculous .190 (resulting in a .150 batting average at the time). No matter who you are, that kind of number will eventually regress back to close to the normal MLB rate of around .300. 

Sure enough, from August 1st to the end of the season, Muncy, whose elbow was also feeling much better by then, started to get the benefit of the bounce, as his BABIP was a much more reasonable .282. That resulted in a final two-month stat line of a .247 average, a .358 on-base percentage, and a .500 slugging pct., along with 12 doubles and 12 homers in 53 games. 

All of those numbers were much more in line with his career, and recent season marks. 

And even in a down year, Muncy still showed elite plate discipline, finishing in the 99th percentile in the majors in walk rate, and the 100th percentile in chase rate. 

His manager expects a big bounce-back year from Max Muncy in 2023. And so should we.

Other bounce-back candidates:

 Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports