The argument could be made that Andre Ethier is having his worst professional season, you know, if you were like a negative blogger or something.
Ethier’s 2013 numbers, by his standards, are fairly modest: .275 batting average, 10 home runs, 47 RBI. His .414 slugging percentage is easily a career low.
Yet as you know, I am an absolutely positive blogger or something, and thus come in praise of Ethier. To claim, that despite an obvious downward tick in his offensive numbers, the argument can be made that Ethier is having his finest season.
It is certainly Ethier’s most unselfish one. Wherever in the lineup or whatever outfield position, Ethier has gone without complaint.
He has played all three outfield positions, moving to center for really the first time in his career when Matt Kemp went down with an injury.
Although he lacks the speed of Yasiel Puig or Kemp in the middle, he’s been the Dodgers’ best overall center fielder this season. He gets great jumps, takes excellent routes and makes few mistakes.
At the plate he’s had a few rough stretches, but overall still a solid season. He’s not going to approach the 31 homers and 106 RBI of 2009, but remains a dangerous bat.
Most importantly, he has been an excellent teammate, something you might not have heard a few seasons back.
He has played 61 games in center, 52 in right and eight in left without complaint. He has batted fourth, fifth and sixth, and hit everywhere else in the lineup.
All without complaint. Without shattered bats and dugout tantrums, without snapping at reporters or flipping the bird to photographers. When Mattingly indirectly questioned his mental toughness back in May and sat him, there was no Ethier outrage. He just worked harder.
Now you could argue it’s a maturity thing at age 31, or it’s the security of an $85-million contract, and both are probably significant.
But in the end, Ethier has emerged as the most professional of ballplayers. He and Kemp were the centerpiece of the Dodgers, but when other big-name players (Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford) were brought it, there’s been nary a complaint or word of seeming jealousy from Ethier. No attitude troubles.
Ethier has done whatever asked, and even with his numbers down, has made himself more valuable than ever.