It’s hard to not feel for Andre Ethier. For the past four seasons, he has been stuck with bench duty far more often than he would like and, honestly, far more often than he should.
This is Andre Ethier we’re talking about. He is the longest tenured player on the Dodgers roster, going on 10 seasons with the team. The same Andre Ethier who once swatted 31 homers in 2009 and made the all-star team in 2010 and ’11. Last season, he found himself victim to the outfield carousel, sharing time with Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke (to name a few players).
Even in his limited playing time last year, Ethier still posted some great numbers as he hit 14 homers and batted .297.
The biggest complaint we’ve heard so far is that “his contract is too large” or “he is not worth the money he is being paid.”
I beg to differ. With the dollar inflating more and more every year in the major league market, his $18M/year for the next three years will become less and less money when compared to the newer contracts of other players in the league.
Let’s take a look at Alex Gordon.
The 3-time all-star is set to average $18.5M over the next six seasons in a new contract tendered to him by the Royals. Gordon also set to earn $23M/year at one point in the length of his contract.
Looking at Gordon’s entire body of work, his 162-game average provided by his Baseball Reference profile has him averaging 19 home runs a year and batting .269.
Ethier’s 162-game average shows him hitting 18 homers and batting .286. All for slightly less than Gordon is set to make annually.
Not good enough? How about Shin-Soo Choo?
Choo is set to make a whopping $20.5M/year for the next four seasons in Texas. For $2.5M a year more than Ethier is making, Choo is averaging 20 home runs per 162 games and only batting .281.
Not enough? Fine. How about Jason Heyward?
At the risk of infuriating sabermetricians everywhere, (I can already hear Brian Kenny screaming) let’s simply examine each player’s offensive output per dollar.
Heyward is a paid man, averaging $23M/year for the next eight seasons. All while averaging 19 homers and batting .269 per 162 games a year.
As far as his WAR or defensive metrics are concerned, I don’t care. I’m not here to argue Heyward’s value in all aspects of the game. I’m simply making the case that Ethier is still the sort of player that should be in the starting lineup on most nights and not the sort of player that should fall subject to the dreaded word “platoon.”
Ethier can still play. On top of that, he is the very definition of a professional athlete. He has had every right to complain about his playing time and the way he has been used in the lineup. Instead, he does what he is told without little to no gripe.
While the ongoing Dodger soap opera has seen the divorce of two co-owners, the bankruptcy of the team, the exit of manager Don Mattingly and the trade of former all-star Matt Kemp, Ethier has endured. I think he deserves a little more respect this time around, for his leadership-by-example and his consistent play over the years.