Former Oakland A’s Max Muncy and Joey Wendle are playing in the 2020 World Series and seizing the moment for their respective teams.
They’re known as the ones that got away.
As you might have guessed, those two teams are pitted against each other in this year’s fall classic happening at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Seeing old rejects on other teams and thriving in their new roles can be hard to fathom. The thought of “what if” is an agonizing one. What if the A’s had retained Max Muncy and Joey Wendle? Would they be as good for Oakland now as they are for their new squads?
Yet at the same time, these career resurgences can serve as feel-good moments and perhaps even as validation to the A’s that they weren’t the only ones to see something in a player.
For the Dodgers, Max Muncy is having a solid postseason. Through 15 games played (at the time of this writing), the veteran infielder has a .448 OBP and an .897 OPS, including a .955 OPS in the World Series alone.
Muncy was released by the A’s in 2017 after two unsuccessful seasons in green and gold. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers shortly after, where he spent a year at their Triple-A affiliate before receiving a big-league promotion in 2018.
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Neither party has looked back since, with Muncy having evolved into a formidable offensive threat at the plate and increasing his versatility in the field.
Though Muncy didn’t pan out in Oakland, the A’s did draft him with a fifth round selection back in 2012, indicating that the team believed there was talent to be unlocked. Unfortunately for them, the Dodgers wound up possessing the key to that potential.
The same can be said of the Rays and Joey Wendle, who has also found a niche in his new home.
Drafted in the same year as Muncy, Wendle went in the sixth round of the MLB draft to the Cleveland Indians. He never appeared in a game for Cleveland, though, as he was traded to the A’s in 2014 for Brandon Moss.
Making his debut for Oakland in 2016, Wendle played a total of 36 games in an A’s uniform before a 2017 offseason trade to the Rays for catcher Jonah Heim, who made his major league debut for the A’s in 2020.
While Wendle played well in the 2020 regular season for Tampa Bay, his overall postseason numbers this year have been underwhelming.
But despite what the stats indicate, Wendle has made some clutch plays in the field and delivered timely hits when needed, serving as a valuable contributor to the Rays’ 2020 pennant run.
Both Max Muncy and Joey Wendle appeal to the narrative of the importance of player development in baseball. The A’s, typically renowned for their player development, happened to swing and miss on these two players.
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In some silver lining, every team has players like Wendle and Muncy. And while it might sting to watch what could have been for the Oakland A’s, it’s nevertheless heartening to see some of their homegrown talent flourish at the Major League level.