The Los Angeles Dodgers have had an interesting dilemma throughout the 2015 season, as Don Mattingly has tried to fit seven outfielders in three spots.
Andre Ethier, who is the longest tenured Dodger, had to adjust his role with the team from an everyday player to a platoon player to a bench player last season. This year, Ethier came into the season wanting to play every day, but that wasn’t in the team’s original plans. Not until Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford were injured did Ethier get his chance and he took it and ran with it. Even as Crawford returned, Mattingly said his veteran outfielder would remain a starter.
However, despite trade rumors and the demotion in 2014, Ethier was able to power through and perform above his expected level in 2015. According to Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, the former All-Star never lost hope:
I never lost faith,” Ethier said. “I maybe doubted myself a little bit. You start to wonder. But you never really give up.”
In the last 28 days, the new left fielder has slashed .281/.311/.439. Perhaps a small part of his success came from his attitude of accepting his role:
I want to play every day. But at the same time, I wanted to be here and be a part of what’s going on here,” said Ethier, who suddenly found himself expendable. “So I was just waiting for my opportunity.”
In his 78 starts this season, Ethier has slashed .281/.364/.481 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs and his .360 wOBA leads all Dodger outfielders. His 91.4% contact on pitches in the zone is his highest mark since 2009 and has also posted a career-high 134 wRC+.
His defense has also been a bit above par as well. In 283.1 innings in left, which is his highest amount played in left field since 2007, he has made 13 plays outside of his fielding zone.
The outfielder has been apart of the Dodgers organization since 2006 when the Dodgers sent Milton Bradley in return for Ethier. He has spent 10 years with the Dodgers. While he made it clear he did not want to play off of the bench early in the season, he has surely adjusted very well and has produced better-than-expected numbers.