Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

In our last post, we went over Yasiel Puig’s projected numbers. Today we continue our examination of right field with our look at Andre Ethier.

2013 numbers: .272/.360/.423, .340 wOBA, 120 wRC+
2014 projeted numbers
(Steamer): .269/.348/.431, .338 wOBA, 119 wRC+
(Oliver): .263/.348/.398, .328 wOBA, 112 wRC+

Andre Ethier has been a mainstay in the Dodgers outfield for the last seven years. So for those of you that keep clamoring about a trade deal, STAHP IT! I firmly believe that people don’t appreciate the sorry state of the Dodgers bench. Let’s not forget that with four healthy outfielders, either Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, or Yasiel Puig, can be pulled from the bench at any given time, depending on the day’s starting lineup. As stated in yesterday’s post, Ethier is likely to see less playing time than the other three outfielders. Honestly, it looks to be the best move going into 2014.

Unfortunately for the Ethier and the Dodgers, Ethier’s numbers have been on a gradual decline.

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=comparison&num=4&h=450&w=450&position=OF&page=0&players=6265
Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=comparison&num=4&h=450&w=450&position=OF&page=8&players=6265
Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

The first graph is Andre Ethier’s batting average over the last seven seasons. The second graph is Ethier’s wOBA. As you can see, he has not been the same player since his age 26 season in 2008. 

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=comparison&num=4&h=450&w=450&position=OF&page=6&players=6265
Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

With his declining batting average and weighted on-base average, there has also been a severe decline in power. Ethier’s ISO (ability to hit for extra bases) is hardly above the league average.

So with all this, why the hell should the Dodgers keep Andre Ethier around? I seemed to have made a solid case for his ouster, right?  

Relegating a starter with declining numbers to the bench is a prudent move. In Andre Ethier’s case, it is the best move the Dodgers can make and here is why: 

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=comparison&num=4&h=450&w=450&position=OF&page=1&players=6265
Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

Ethier has consistently had an OBP well above the league average going from season to season. In fact, going into 2014, despite seeing a dip in his on-base percentage, Ethier will still boast a .348 OBP. His 2014 on-base percentage is likely due to his ability to still hit but also because of his respectable BB/K ratio.

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=comparison&num=4&h=450&w=450&position=OF&page=5&players=6265
Source: FanGraphsAndre Ethier

With Ethier’s ability to hit and draw walks still intact, he is the ideal player to have on the bench. And as last season taught us, you can never have too many players for any position. Now if the Dodgers can teach Ethier to play second, the bench woes of 2014 can be solved.

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