There is a real life possibility that Max Muncy could win MVP this year.
Hear me out.
We are essentially at the midpoint of the season, so it’s a little late for anything to be a fluke, and also a little early to say things are set into stone. So what Max Muncy has done up to this point is impressive, and he doesn’t show any sign of stopping.
The 27 year old who was released by the Oakland Athletics not long ago, basically left for dead in the baseball world, was scraped up by the Dodgers front office, and seems to be Chris Taylor 2.0, a player who seemed to be nothing who is turning into something.
Max Muncy is currently around 100 PAs behind the other big front runners in the NL (Arenado, Freeman, Cain, Realmuto, Goldschmidt, etc.) because he got a late start on the year and wasn’t even on the roster to start the season. But he could very easily catch up considering there is plenty of baseball to be played, so let’s see how he matches up with the front runners.
For the stats involving qualified batters, I set the data at 230 PAs, less than current qualification, but we can assume everyone at or above that will qualify by the end of the year (and because that’s just below where Muncy is at.) More importantly however, with these many plate appearances, even if he doesn’t technically qualify, he is still maintaining these statistics at a very impressive level at a very impressive rate. Yes, regression is possible, and maybe even likely, but it would be absurd to completely dismiss the data I am about to show you based on a slight difference of plate appearances.
NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with any of the sabermetrics cited below, the Fangraphs site provides great explanations on both a simple scale and a more complicated, detailed one.
As of July 3rd:
fWAR: 3.2 (tied for third in the NL)
BB%: 19 % (first in NL)
HR: 20 (third in NL)
BABIP: .283 (sustainable)
K%: 22.9 % (a little high, but not horrible, 33rd in the NL)
ISO: .368 (first in NL by massive margin)
wRC+: 185 (first in NL by large margin)
OPS: 1.069 (first in NL)
wOBA: .442 (first in NL)
Hard hit %: 48.1 % (fourth in NL)
Those aren’t the numbers of a pretender. Max Muncy is the real deal.
Historically, we know that offensive stats really seem to be the only relevant stats to MVP voters, which is why a guy like Lorenzo Cain isn’t and likely will never get the real respect he deserves because of his value comes from base running and defense as much as offense, but Max Muncy isn’t too much of a slouch there, either.
Muncy has logged 460.1 innings on defense in 4 positions, about 200 each at first base and third base, a little over 50 at second base, and the rest in left field. His UZR/150 is statistically classified by fangraphs’ “how to use UZR” as average at first and left, above average at third, and significantly below average at second (he’s clearly not built for it, but the sample size is small so we can’t tell).
As for baserunning, his BSR is at 1.2, closer to above average than average
So what does this all mean? Max Muncy is a positive player in all three aspects of the game, and has a very real chance to win the MVP this year if he competes at a similar rate. But there’s a lot of baseball to be played, so let’s let them play it