In responding to Alanna Rizzo’s first question in the post-game last night at Atlanta, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts summed up Max Muncy’s performance this way: “He’s a baseball player.” Which, in that particular context, was about as fine a compliment as could be given.
Los Angeles won the opener of a three-game series at SunTrust Park in come-from-behind fashion Friday, with Muncy’s three-run bomb putting the Dodgers up 5-3 in the seventh. That left-hander Sean Newcomb was brought in specifically to face the lefty swinger was of no matter to Muncy. In fact, from my living room in the 818, I’m pretty sure I heard Max exclaim, “Lefty, schmefty!” But I could be wrong.
Justin Turner followed with a solo round tripper, L.A. plated two more in the inning on a Will Smith homer and won going away, 8-3. Against the Braves’ best pitcher, Mike Soroka. No doubt the Dodgers look forward to winning the series with the, shall we say, less-successful Mike Foltynewicz going for the home team Saturday, opposite Hyun-Jin Ryu.
More long balls, you say? Likely, with L.A. hitting a ton of them recently, including an MLB-record 22 in their last five games and 215 on the campaign.
With Muncy and Cody Bellinger leading the way (Bellinger hit one Friday too; his baseball-best 41st of 2019), the Dodgers are quite literally getting bang for their buck.
Sure, Los Angeles sports one of baseball’s highest payroll ($196,297,677), but the heavy lifting is being done primarily by the low-salaried among them. Yes, Turner has 22 homers as of Saturday morning, and his contract calls for a $19 million 2019 salary, but he hit 16 HR while playing for $2.5 million in 2015 and 27 HR in 2016, with $5.1 million as compensation. Things have a way of evening out in the end. Well, if don’t sign one guy to 13-year $330 million deal, anyway.
Muncy, who hit 35 HR while earning $489,310 in 2018 (he started the season at Triple-A, remember), has hit 30 in 120 games to date this year, with a corresponding salary of $575,000. That’s bang for Guggenheim’s buck, all right: $19,167 per big fly.
Bellinger’s $605,000 salary and 41 HR amounts to an even better $14,756 per.
Rookie Will Smith, who’s paid a prorated portion of major league minimum ($555,000) based on days on the 25-man roster, hit his 10th home run last night. Since Smith has spent just 30 days with the Dodgers, he’s been the team’s biggest bargain at $9250/HR. Based on a full six-month season, by the way, Smith would be on pace for 60 homers. Sixty.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this is how you run away with a division with a team payroll that has dropped from (approximately) $271 million in 2015 to $249 million in 2016 to $241 million in 2017 to $187 million in 2018, before bumping back up to $196 million this year.
Other relative big-fly bargains (compared to Bryce Harper, $443,787 per/HR) include Kiké Hernandez ($204,688/HR), Joc Pederson ($208,333/HR), Alex Verdugo ($46,666/HR) and Matt Beaty ($67,637/HR).
All told, Dodgers management is paying $912,929 per home run.
For comparison (including Friday’s games), the San Francisco Giants, with a $170,179,653 payroll and their 25th-in-baseball 134 homers, are spending $1,269,999 per.
The Boston Red Sox have a $236,171,429 payroll and 194 HR. That’s $1,391,735 per.
With a $203,897,446 payroll and 222 HR, the New York Yankees are spending $918,456 per.
And last but not least, the Minnesota Twins have hit an MLB-best 238 home runs. With a $119,651,933 payroll. That’s $502,739 per. You go, Twinkees.
And remember, glove conquers all.