Andre Ethier, in his age-30 season and coming off a couple of years in which he had to deal with injuries, spent time on the DL again this past season, which limited him to just 146 games. Oblique injury aside, Dre actually had one of his best campaigns as a pro, posting a ~3.1 WAR that included average baserunning (~0.0) and below-average fielding (~-3.0).
With the bat, Ethier posted a .284/.351/.460/.811 slash line with a .350 wOBA and 124 wRC+. While his power did jump from the previous year (.129 to .176 ISO), which should have been expected with his ’11 pinkie injury healed, he did display a troubling tendency at the plate, as he walked less (10.5/8.1 BB%) and struck out more (18.7/20.1 K%) than in 2011. His 2012 BABIP of .333 is consistent with his career mark of .324 and his average on balls-in-play in all but one of his major league seasons, so luck doesn’t really factor into the larger picture for Andre.
While his walks and strikeouts make one pause, what doesn’t shock us anymore is his continued ineptitude against southpaws. In 2012, Andre hit – if we can even use that word – .222/.276/.330/.606 against lefty hurlers, and he was somehow worse than his career slash line of .238/.296/.352/.649. Simply put, Ethier can’t, won’t, and never will hit lefties with the amount of consistency that an everyday player should. Sure, he’ll garner the occasional base-knock against one of his own kind, but Don Mattingly would be wise to institute a firmer platoon in right if Ned Colletti could ever actually provide him with a platoon partner who isn’t as putrid as your Juan Rivera-types Uncle Ned always gravitates towards.
Heading into year one of a 5-year, $85 million dollar contract that has a great chance of becoming a $100 million deal, Andre Ethier no longer needs to be the second-best bat on the squad, but if struggles in the box continue for a couple of new additions, he could end up being the second-best offensive player once again in 2013 … which might not be a good thing.