Andre Ethier Could Be The Dodger Lead-off Hitter

Andre Ethier

Remember when I wrote that article asking about whether Corey Seager should lead-off? I wrote another one pondering who the Dodgers will bat at the top spot in the lineup? Coming into this season the Dodgers don’t have a typical lead-off hitter. Of course times have changed since the old days when a lead-off guy was generally a gritty speedster who got on base and caused havoc on the base paths.

Nowadays lead-off hitters encompass different types of players. Anyone can bat lead-off as long as they get on base. So you see more and more clubs using guys with more power and less speed. As long as they have a high on base percentage then that is ok. I agree with this strategy 100%. As I have said before, the saber kids are spot on with this argument. The lead-off guy has to be able to get on base consistently.

So manager Dave Roberts recently made a statement that the Dodgers will rotate different players in and out of the lead-off spot. That’s fine, but now he is revealing something very intriguing. What about Andre Ethier batting lead-0ff?

Roberts has said that Ethier will bat lead-off from time to time. Why would he bat the long tenured Dodger veteran in the lead-off spot?

“He gets on base”……

Of course of course.

Getting on base is something Ethier has always been able to do at a good clip. He’s at the least been above league average every season. Ethier has averaged 59 walks per season (43 in 2015) and has a career .359 on base percentage. Ethier posted a .366 OBP in 2015. There has only been one season where Ethier’s OBP has dipped below .350.

Now Ethier can’t bat lead-off every game because of his massive platoon split. He can bat lead-off against right handers, and be moved lower in the lineup against lefties. He still crushes right handers like a bat out of hell. Somebody else can lead-off when there is a southpaw on the hill.

In case you were wondering, Andre Ethier has batted lead-off in just seven games in his entire career. In those games he is 2 for 6 in 8 plate appearances. However when Ethier leads off an inning, he is slashing .277/.340/.465 with 32 home runs and an .805 OPS in 1,069 plate appearances. When hitting second in the lineup, Ethier is hitting .291 with 27 career home runs.

So Roberts tested his hypothesis by batting Ethier in the lead-off spot during the Dodger’s Wednesday afternoon game against the Rockies. What do you know, Ethier was 1 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. Oh and by the way, he’s hitting .429 this spring. The Dodgers defeated Colorado 7-3.

Ethier has been around for so long he truly has done everything. Now it appears he might be able to add one more task to that list. Who would have ever thought the Dodgers would be even thinking about batting Ethier at the top of the lineup? Baseball is a trip.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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49 thoughts on “Andre Ethier Could Be The Dodger Lead-off Hitter

  1. Makes mucho smarts Scott. I’d bet Ethier is fine with that as well. I wonder if he’d ever thought that himself? I think Roberts is bringing things to the table that set off lights with several heads in the clubhouse.

    1. When it goes down this way perhaps the 9 hole shouldn’t be inked for the pitcher but rather the best havoc inducer.

  2. Ethier is a savvy veteran. I am glad to hear you say Scott that Ethier could bat further down in the order when left handers pitch. This tells me you are thinking he could be a full time player. I agree. Roberts is allowing Ethier to bat against left handers. He is keeping his front shoulder in and going to left field. I said in a previous post I thought he looked good against left handers.

    I think the whole culture in the club house is changing. Roberts is not afraid to try different things. The runners are going from first to third regularly. Even when the hit is to left field. Puig still does not know what a cut off man is for. Everything is not perfect, but a lot better than under Mattingly.

  3. What? Mr. Softie? The guy who “can’t be traded” actually leading off?

    Yeah. Why not? He’s one of the most professional hitters we have. He already has decent OBP stats against LH starters (.320 lifetime) perhaps with some work he could get that to .333, and with more right handed starters, I think it’s around 61%, we maybe need to have someone else for games against guys like Bumgarner. I think there is also some merit to Bill James thoughts on making bat handles thicker. Evidently there is a correlation between that and contact. Guys like Nellie Fox would agree with that. If a shorter, thicker handled bat could help Ethier get on against LH starters, that’s STARTERS, not LHP, then he should definitely look into it.

    I think al is right about Roberts changing things in a positive way. Maybe he can get some small things done that Mattingly could not. Will it translate to wins? Of course it will. Enough wins to take the West again? Maybe. Enough to win a championship?

    1. I’ve always thought Ethier would be a good #2 hitter when he was healthy. His game drops off more than most when he has an ailment. 90% health yields 75% performance.
      .
      Remember 68% of all statistics are made up on the fly.

      1. That’s because fly balls stay in the air longer than grounders. And the longer you think about that the less sense it’s going to make. It already sounds ridiculous and I’m the one said it.

        I agree about Ethier in the two hole, but that works much better with a Gordon-like leadoff hitter. Somebody on first that is a threat to steal prompts more fastballs. Ethier knows what to do with them.

  4. I agree, let DeLeon go 3-4 innings next time and let him just grow with that #5 job

    By the 2nd half, he’ll surpass a few of our Brett Andersons and hopefully become a real 3

  5. I know everyone wants to see a young pitcher be the number five in the rotation, but I still think that they will have Bolsinger be the number five. That is unless he self destructs, and if Bolsinger does, I think they will have Beachy be the number five. Orel said that they were going to bring the young pitchers up, when they have the best match up for each pitcher, and in the best situation, that would give each pitcher, there best chance, to suceed. They want the young pitchers, to be able to build off, there success, and to be able to see, what it takes, to pitch in the majors. So maybe most of these young pitchers will get there turn.

  6. I will say this, I bet that Ethier is so glad that Mattingly is gone, because Mattingly treated Ethier badly. I remember last year in spring training, when Mattingly told Ethier, that he was competing with Joc, in centerfield. That was a big dis, and we all know, that Ethier is not a centerfielder, he can fill in, if needed. That was disrespectful, for Mattingly to continue to tell Ethier, and the press, that, he was competing against Joc. Mattingly was trying to set up Ethier, to fail. And Ethier, was the most productive outfielder, and the best offensive player, for the Dodgers, in the second half of the season. Just this confidence, that Roberts is showing in Ethier, will go a long way, with Ethier, and the other players. It really isn’t about Ethier, being the lead off hitter, it is more about Roberts, showing confidence in Ethier.

  7. Just saw Kendrick taking ground balls with Turner at 3b. Lots of them. He looked better than Turner. Maybe 3b will extend his career.

    1. I can remember watching pre-game infield practice where Guerero looked better than Cey. He wasn’t though. You guys remember pre-game infield practice don’t ya?

      1. I do. I’m betting Seager is the best third baseman in the organization.

        I was hoping to see middle infield practice when I was down there but they had just finished.

        Game not on again today. I was hoping to see Guerrero’s at bats. Cincinnati Arizona from last night is on here. Dbacks dusted ’em, 10 runs, 16 hits. Peraza with a triple. He’s hitting .367. He’s playing shortstop. He looks good there. Who knew?

        1. Badger I was waiting to see Peraza hit the other day, but he didn’t get a pitch, before I had to leave. I was curious on how he was doing.

      2. They don’t do that much anymore, do they? Cey was practically the only Dodger infielder, that doved for balls. I don’t remember Russel doing that, but I think Lopes and Garvey did, occasionally. I really liked Cey, he was finally the right guy for the Dodgers at third. Ron Cey was built. I remember Vin always saying that Cey had the lowest body fat, on the Dodgers. Remember Garvey couldn’t throw, from third?

        1. Garvey diving for the ball??? HA!!!!!!!!! Garvey didn’t even do such a thing standing! No way would he risk making an error! Especially if it was thrown rather than hit.

      1. Bum Joc got another hit, it was a double. It looks like Roberts is having Joc get more at bats, so he can build off, the success, he is having right now. I think that is a good idea. Maybe Joc is starting to really like, hitting the other way. If he can continue that, he will bring his average up, and won’t have to depend on walks. I don’t want to see him be that three outcome type of player. He will be much better, if he hits to all fields.

  8. I am enough of a traditionalist that I prefer to see a real table-setter batting leadoff. Maury Wills – Davey Lopes – Brett Butler. A game-disrupter. A guy who won’t clog the bases.

    The Saberguys only care about OBP. There was talk at Dodgers Digest about batting AJ Ellis 1st a couple of years ago. Crazy. He is too slow to go from first to third, too slow to do much of anything. He isn’t going to score many runs because he will be rubbed out in double plays, force outs and won’t be in scoring position as often because he can’t take the extra base.

    I have the same concerns about Ethier or Kendrick. Neither is built for speed at this point in their careers. There isn’t an obvious leadoff hitter in this bunch, (we had one a couple of years ago named Dee Gordon as I recall), so they need to do the best they can. Maybe Puig or Pederson would be the answer.

    1. I think it was Orel Hershiser who pointed out that leadoff has a 20% greater chance making an additional AB than does the 2 hole and 40% chance above the 3 hole and so on. Where the option doesn’t exist (because Gordon plays elsewhere) I see easily how a more dependable batter, or rather, one less likely to make an out could payoff big and exciting at the end of the game. Put the base hell raiser in the 9 hole until he’s able to make it really count.

        1. so can we really say that Ethier is one of the 3 best hitters on the team? No – I would say that Adrian Gonzalez is. Based on last year, Justin Turner is. Based on track record, Puig is. Based on potential, Seager is. Lead off with one of those guys. i vote Puig.

          1. I wouldn’t say he’s one of the three best hitters, so I agree with you. However, I do think that Ethier is a little bit more of a polished hitter than Puig and Turner. With that being said, I wouldn’t bat Ethier lead-off, I would probably hit him lower in the lineup and have Kendrick or Puig bat lead-off. But Ethier gets on base just as much or more than those guys do. I could live with Ethier batting lead-off. After all somebody has to bat cleanup and fifth. Gonzalez and Turner have to have some kind of lineup protection. It’s not a perfect scenario and there are no clear cut answers here. The Dodgers will probably mix and match.

  9. I think it will be Pederson to start. It appears the work he’s put in might be starting to pay off. He hasn’t faced frontline pitching yet, nobody has really, but from here forward things will become more intense. Starting pitchers are going to be stretched out and cuts will be made. If Joc continues getting on, .370 so far, he’s the choice. If it isn’t him, I think we might have a problem.

  10. Bronson is just another example of the terrible rehab and physical training in professional sports, especially MLB. Strengthen one area of the body and another area goes bad again and again. I have been talking for years about the strengthening of the elbow resulting in future injury to the shoulder and vice versa.

    They are all clueless. So, yes an jury to the elbow is now a precursor to a shoulder injury and vice versa. Screw the medical version of the scientific method it just protects sophomoric ignorance.

    Will Neddy Jr. lie forever about the health of the players like Ryu or are the Drs and trainers really this completely stupid?

  11. Just got back from the game. Dodgers B team vs Royals B+ team. No contest. Some of the worst at bats I have seen, and this team has had plenty of those. No clue. If this was a contest of prospects, ours are nowhere near as good as their’s. I think there is something about being a prospect on a world champion which makes you a prospect Plus. It is a confidence in yourself and your team. Our guys still don’t have that. Guerrero, Kike, Barnes, Crawford, Ellis stunk up the joint. VanSlyke didn’t dive for a groundball, which let in the first run. Peterson doubled his first at bat, and then was never close again. His batting stance looks ugly, and if it looks ugly, that will probably be the result. In his last strike out he was so out of balance that after the swing and miss, he ended up on the ground, looking at the umpire. Terrible. Jansen was the highlight striking out the side. After today, I’m not so sure about these prospects of ours. Might be a lot of BS by the media, which likes to play dodgergames. Good or bad. Hit em when they’re up .Hit em’ when they’re down. Bad day at the ball yard.

    1. Bobbie17 I’m suprised to hear that, about Joc. It looked like he was getting a hit almost every game, he has played in lately. On Dodger Nation, they had the game right there, and I pushed, and again, all I got was a light, but could never get the game. I was able to get that webcast that the other Bobbie, gave the link to, but haven’t been able to get a game again.

    2. Good report b17. I saw in the Boxscore that Pederson struck out twice and wondered what it looked like. To fall down on strike three is telling, especially for him. Yeah, not a good day for the Dodgers.

  12. They let seven guys go, Urias, Del Leon, Thomas, Stripling, Johnson, Henry the catcher, and the Cuban pitcher. I guess Jamie Wright is still on the team. Stripling struck out four batters today, and has not given up a run, in spring training. I can’t imagine how he feels, after how he has pitched.

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