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Andre Ethier Will Probably Patrol Left Field, And That’s Good

Andre Ethier

Veteran outfielder Carl Crawford went 2 for 3 with a triple in the Dodger’s 5-2 win against the Giants on Sunday afternoon. He also bumbled a routine fly ball in left field as well. Crawford has gotten off to a good start with the bat this exhibition season, but it’s Andre Ethier who will likely be given the left field job with Crawford serving as his backup. The Dodgers did not officially announce that Dre will be the starting left fielder, but he is expected to be and the Dodgers told Crawford to be prepared for a bench role. Crawford understood the situation and is focusing on his new diminished role as a part time player.

Of course this is no surprise to many of us who have seen Crawford battle numerous injuries over the last several seasons. Crawford can no longer remain healthy. He’s 34 years old and has not played a full season since he was with Tampa Bay. Crawford has battled constant rustiness since becoming a Dodger via the big trade in 2012.

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Stalwart Andre Ethier is the longest tenured Dodger player in the organization (He’s been with the club since 2006) and well deserving of the spot after having a very productive season in 2015. Ethier slashed .294/.366/.486 while posting an .852 OPS with 14 home runs and 53 RBI in 445 plate appearances. Ethier played in 142 games last season. Crawford on the other hand played in just 69 games last year posting a .707 OPS in just 370 plate appearances.

Crawford was predictably unhappy about the situation, but had this to say. He seems to be taking it well.

“My goal this year is to just stay healthy and try to dig myself out of this situation. And I’ll do whatever they need me to do.”

Unfortunately Ethier has had trouble hitting left handed pitching throughout the latter part of his career. Last year Ethier batted just .200 (9 for 45) against left handed pitching, and has a career .234 average with a .635 OPS against southpaws.

However I believe you should look at a player’s contributions as a whole. Many people like to bring up the “can’t hit lefties” argument and I can’t disagree. One should also notice that Ethier crushes right handers to the tune of a .304 career average with 137 home runs. Last season Ethier batted .309 against righties.

Yes Ethier has problems hitting left handers, but that’s why you find him a platoon partner. Outfielder/first baseman Scott Van Slyke is still expected to share some time in left field with Ethier as part of a platoon. Since Ethier would play against right handers he would still get the majority of the playing time.

Ethier hits better as a starter anyways. He’s a .286 career hitter when he starts compared to his .270 average when he is a sub. As a starter Ethier has an .825 OPS and as a sub he’s posted a .784 OPS. You know what they say, you can’t play unless you play and Ethier has said as much about himself before. Ethier plays better when he starts.

Maybe newly acquired prospect Trayce Thompson impresses enough to get a longer look. Maybe somebody else steps up and is considered for the left field job. Ethier is still a good player and I think it would be prudent to let him patrol left field again. Hopefully the Dodgers will have to Dre to make it every day. With Crawford slated for the bench and Van Slyke needed as the lefty masher off the bench, it seems as if the left field job is Andre Ethier’s to lose.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

8 thoughts on “Andre Ethier Will Probably Patrol Left Field, And That’s Good

  1. I agree Scott. I add this for the fun of it. If Ethier’s and Crawford’s bat have two more years of potency and SVS and Thompson have strong starts, the Dodgers would have good platoons in LF and RF. In 2 years Verdugo will be ready to join the Dodgers and Ethier’s and Crawford’s contracts will be gone.
    Should Puig have a strong spring and the Dodgers are offered a young 1.5 pitcher for Puig, would they do it? Should they do it? Would I do it? Yes.

  2. Puig had a 5.3 WAR year as a 23 year old. If he stays healthy that could improve. Unless he is still a divisive element, I don’t think it’s wise to trade young players with that much talent. We don’t have a lot of those type players in this organization. We are deep with 1.5 pitching prospects. Evidently Maeda is one of them.
    Ethier and Crawford are very similar players. That should have been dealt with by now.
    Speaking of similar players, from row 20, Zarraga, Segedin and Hassan look like the same guy. They all where the same number 73-5-6 ….. or something like that.

    1. Can’t believe it, but, we agree on PUIG!! Lets see what he is going to do. His trade value is pretty low right now anyways.

      But, I don’t know how you expected Ethier and Crawford to have been “dealt with by now”?

  3. As much as Puig drives me crazy, we can’t dump him just yet… Maybe, just maybe, there will be a miracle in the Ravine… Like a western US version of Medjugorje the faithful will flock to see Joc P. and Puig healed from their past maladies!!! A guy can hope can’t he???
    Damn errors are killing me… Thankful it’s ST!!!

  4. There is a good article about Crawford in the LA Times. As frustrated as many fans get with Crawford, can you imagine how Crawford feels. I guess they have told Crawford not to bulk up to much, and not to work out to much too.

  5. I’m not saying Ethier should not be platooned, but his numbers against lefties last year were probably worse because he mainly faced LOOGYs. It’s harder to hit lefties when you almost never face them.

  6. snider makes an important point. I would suggest you look at Ethier’s splits before jumping to the conclusion he “can’t hit lefties”. Versus left hand starters he has a career slash line of .250/.320/.376. Not good, but not horrible. Last year? .273/.314/ .394. That algorithmic message? Get him out of there against LOOGY’s.

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