With Matt Kemp still recovering from off-season surgery, Andre Ethier began the season as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ center fielder. Kemp returned when the Dodgers opened their first homestand, but Ethier still started two of the three games against the San Francisco Giants.
Ethier finished the regular season with consecutive starts Friday and Saturday for the first time since Aug. 23 and 24. What transpired for Ethier between the starting and ending points can best be described as inconsistent, or in his own words, humbling, via Bill Plaschke of the LA Times:
It’s been my most humbling season. But it’s one where I’ve learned the most.”
Ethier acknowledged his natural instinct to fight against his diminished role with the team, but was professional enough to set his personal issues aside:
Your pride wants to fight it, but you learn to check it and realize that’s not what’s best for my teammates, that’s not the best example for anyone who’s paying attention. I could act mad, but I don’t want to affect my teammates or the fans with that kind of energy. We’re so close to our ultimate goal, I will not get in the way of that goal. I’ll do whatever it takes to bring home that trophy.”
Manager Don Mattingly recently reiterated Ethier wasn’t happy with his role, which didn’t come as surprise. However, he also added the outfielder has been a consummate teammates, which has been said of Ethier multiple times this year.
While Ethier may have lost his role as a starting outfielder, general manager Ned Colletti sees value in him for the postseason:
One of the criticisms of our playoff teams recently is that we haven’t had a late-inning power guy off the bench,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “Well, now we’ve got a guy who can change a game.”
Ethier appeared in 130 games, which is his lowest total since 2011. He set career-lows with a .249 batting average, .370 slugging percentage, four home runs and 42 RBIs. However, Ethier did bat .290 as a pinch-hitter and .297 with runners in scoring position.
As the Dodgers now head to the postseason in a rematch with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ethier could find himself in a key moment off the bench.