One of the most valuable players this season for the Dodgers has been a player who was signed on a minor-league deal in April of 2017 and started 2018 with Triple-A. It's kind of been a knack by Andrew Friedman and company these last few years, but we'll get to that in a second, lest we bury the lead. 

Max Muncy, baby. 

Muncy came through with a big home run in the NL West tiebreaker game on Monday and he had the three-run blast early in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves that made a close game a not-so-close one. 

That was with two outs in the second. If Muncy actually makes an out there, perhaps it's possible this game turns out different. Hyun-Jin Ryu was outstanding, but a one-run cushion leaves no margin for error. Muncy gave Ryu a four-run cushion after just two innings. That's a big swing. 

We've mentioned it before, but Muncy's story is a good one. In 245 plate appearances for the A's in 2015-16, Muncy hit .195/.290/.321 with five homers. The A's released him when he didn't make the team for 2017 and he sat a free agent for nearly a month before the Dodgers grabbed him on a minor-league deal. 

That's not exactly a coveted player. 

And yet, here we are. Twenty-nine teams have to be kicking themselves. Due to injuries, Muncy got the call for the Dodgers early in 2018 and forced their hand -- not too much unlike Cody Bellinger in 2017. Muncy hit .263/.391/.582 with a team-best 35 homers in just 137 games. 

And now he has the big blow in Game 1 of the NLDS. It's becoming a theme. 

As noted, Friedman and his front office have done this a few times. This isn't an exhaustive list, but let's consider Chris Taylor, Brandon Morrow and Andrew Toles

  • Taylor hit .240/.296/.296 in 86 games for the Mariners and was acquired in a bit of a "challenge" trade with the Mariners for flamed-out pitching prospect Zach Lee in 2016. Come the 2017 postseason, he was the Dodgers' offensive catalyst and is still a very important piece. Lee is ... not great. We'll leave it at that. 
  • Toles was released by the Rays in March of 2015 and sat around waiting for a call for six months before the Dodgers grabbed him. In Game 6 of the 2016 NLCS, he was the Dodgers' leadoff man. 
  • Morrow signed a minor-league deal with the Dodgers before the 2017 season. He started in Triple-A and didn't get to the majors until late May. He was outstanding and, come the playoffs, was being used (OK, I actually mean "overused," but that's beside the point) as the primary setup man for Kenley Jansen. He appeared in 14 of the Dodgers' 15 postseason games.

And now we have Muncy. This is the type of stuff that usually helps a small-market team defy the odds. Instead, you've got a team with a $225M-plus payroll finding gems like this on a quasi-regular basis. 

It's really pretty amazing, just like the season Max Muncy had and the postseason he's already having.