2009 was a breakout year for Andre Ethier, right? Actually, no. I approached this profile with the opinion that Ethier's 2009 season was the best of his career (and I assumed it was by a large margin) but then I checked his stats and found that's not quite the case at all. As for my perception of him having his best year as a pro, he certainly did when it comes to counting stats. He had career bests in home runs, runs and RBI's. Plus he racked up some accolades with the voters, finishing 6th in the MVP voting and coming away with a silver slugger award. Plus there were those 6 walk off hits during the year, which earned Ethier a Clutch Performer of the Year Award. As for the rate stats, Ethier actually posted better numbers in 2008. 2009 saw a dip in Ethier's batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and wOBA compared to the prior year. Not that I'm complaining. The numbers Ethier posted in 2009, while slightly lower than 2008, are still excellent. This exercise actually serves to frustrate me more with the Dodgers and their insistence of blocking Ethier with mediocre to bad veterans in the past. The only thing that kept Andre from hitting 30+ home runs in 2008 was plate appearances; fortunately for Dodger fans that no longer appears to be a problem.
Despite Ethier's excellent year at the plate, it's not to suggest that Ethier's game is without flaws. Defensive metrics such as UZR grade Ethier rather poorly. Ethier appears to have a solid throwing arm in RF, however his range is lacking as his UZR was -16.2 which was good for 16th out of 19 right fielders who qualify . Additionally, Ethier still struggles against left handed pitching, as Ethier had a batting line of .302/.390/.571 against RHP but only a line of .194/.283/.345 against LHP. I'm pretty sure Jamie Hoffmann, Xavier Paul or Jason Repko can give you that, and those guys are all considered better defensive outfielders. Despite his struggles against left handed pitching, the Dodgers did not bring in a platoon partner for Andre in the offseason, so Ethier will have to improve when facing left handed opponents as Torre has no other options (assuming the in-house options are not utilized) when facing "tough lefties."
|2010 Projections - Age 28 Season|
Despite my nitpicking above, I do believe Andre Ethier is a legitimate star in the league. I'm not terribly concerned with his range is right field, considering his outfield partner Matt Kemp has excellent range to cover for his teammate. I'm a little bit more concerned with Ethier's struggles against LHP, and absent improvement in this area, opposing teams will make sure that Ethier has a difficult time getting any walk offs this year as he will face a LOOGY whenever possible. No matter what, I expect Joe Torre to ride Ethier hard. As I said during the Manny Ramirez preview, Torre will be hard pressed to give any of his 3 star outfielder much of a rest this season. Consider that other than the outfield, the other traditional power hitting positions of first base, catcher and third base are occupied with two guys who slugged .399 and .329 last season and a guy entering his age 36 season. It's one thing to hope Russell Martin and James Loney find their power stroke next season, but Torre will rely upon Andre Ethier to supply the power on a daily basis. After all, Ethier has had a slugging percentage of greater than .500 the past two seasons, and I see no reason to believe that he can't perform at that level again in his age 28 season. Ethier is in his prime, and I expect big things this season.
.285 / .360 / .515 in 615 plate appearances.
What are your community projections for Andre Ethier?