Over the past few seasons, Andre Ethier has become one of the cornerstones of the Dodgers.  Often overshadowed by Matt Kemp, there have been times when Ethier has been the best hitter on the Dodgers.  That was the case for the most part in 2012.

While Kemp was slowed by injuries for a good chunk of the season, Ethier was the Dodgers’ best and most consistent hitter all season long.

After being slowed by a knee injury that required offseason surgery in 2011, Andre bounced back to have an extremely productive 2012 season, leading the team in several offensive categories.

Andre also hit several career milestones in 2012 including his 1,000th career hit, and setting a new L.A. Dodgers record for consecutive hits.  One of the first big moves by the Dodgers’ new ownership group was to sign Ethier to a five-year/$85 million extension in June.

This was huge for a player like Andre, who has always had to fight for a spot in the lineup and who seems to play best with a chip on his shoulder.

Andre also continued to bring his gold glove defense to right field, with only Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals’ had a higher fielding percentage among NL right fielders.

The Numbers:  .284, 20 HR, 89 RBI, 79 R, .351 OBP, .812 OPS, 149 games played

After missing time over the past couple of seasons due to injury, Andre stayed relatively healthy in 2012 and played in his most games since 2009 and his second most games in his career.

Andre led the Dodgers in RBI, runs scored, doubles, and games played.  After watching his power stroke wane last season due to a sore knee, Andre hit 20 home runs for the fourth time in his career this season.

He also drove in 80 runs for the third time in his career, and had his second-highest RBI total of his career.

Andre’s line of .284/.351/.812 was not far off his career line of .290/.362/.838.  Ethier also had the responsibility of carrying the Dodgers’ offense on his shoulders in May and June while Matt Kemp was out with an injured hamstring, affording him no protection in the lineup.

The only knock on Ethier’s 2012 campaign was his continued struggles against left-handed pitching.  Andre hit a blistering .325 against righties, and slugging .546.  Against lefties, Andre saw his batting average drop to an abysmal .222, slugging only .330.  In his career Andre has hit righties at a .311 clip, he has only a .238 career mark against left-handed pitching.

Season Highlights

April 6 vs. Padres – Andre started off the season hot, going 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, and four runs driven in as the Dodgers handed down a 6-0 smashing of the Padres.

June 10 vs. Mariners – Two nights after being no-hit by six Mariners pitchers, the Dodgers put up eight runs for the second consecutive game. This time they would be led by an Ethier grand slam, his first since August of 2011.

Aug. 24 vs. Marlins – Andre went 4-for-4 including a three-run home run off of former Dodger Nathan Eovaldi.  Ethier had four RBIs total and scored three runs.  This would be the start of a 10-for-10 stretch for Andre, breaking an L.A. Dodgers record of nine consecutive hits set by Ron Cey in 1977.  Andre tied the franchise record of ten straight hits set back in 1919 by Ed Konetchy in Brooklyn.

Sept. 1 vs. Diamondbacks – Andre hit a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth inning off of D’Backs reliever Matt Albers.  Andre’s 15th homer of the season gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead that the bullpen would preserve to give Josh Beckett his first win as a Dodger.

Oct. 1 vs. Giants – Andre smashed a two-run home run off of Giants ace Matt Cain to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the final series of the year.  The Dodgers would go on to win 3-2 and keep their playoff hopes alive for one more day before being eliminated from playoff contention the next day.

What’s Next?

One of the big moves made by the Dodgers’ new ownership group was to sign Ethier to a long-term extension.  After making $10.9 million in 2012, Andre will make $13.5 million next year and is signed through 2017.

Along with Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, Ethier will make up the core of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

Andre will turn 31 at the beginning of the season.

Thus, rumors had surfaced after the season finished that the Dodgers would be willing to move Andre for pitcher James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays, however, GM Ned Colletti has since publicly stated that the Dodgers have no interest in trading away Ethier.

After dealing with injuries over the past season-and-a-half, Andre played his most games since 2009, and further solidified his spot as one of the top outfielders in the game.

The Dodgers will have a full season of a lineup featuring Kemp, Ethier, Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez in 2013. With long-term security, look for Ethier to continue putting up consistent numbers solidifying the heart of the Dodgers’ batting order next season.

About The Author

Mark was a top 52 finalist for MLB Fan Cave this past offseason. He has also interned for Fox Sports Radio and Universal Sports Network. You can follow Mark on Twitter @MarkFabrick.

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