In a sense, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp traversed a similar path this season. Both outfielders were regular starters that saw their playing time cut, roles changed and were included in trade rumors, though Ethier to a much lesser extent.
However, Kemp rebounded to become a driving force while Ethier continued to be relegated to the bench. Magic Johnson said Kemp went through a period of time where there was uncertainty as to whether or not he wanted to remain with the team, but is now a leader in the clubhouse, via Michael Lananna of MLB.com:
He’s been, ever since, the last three or four months, he’s been a guy who is happy with the changing of his outfield position, and he’s been a guy swinging a hot, hot bat, and also he’s been a leader in this clubhouse, too.”
Johnson also thanked Ethier for remaining a professional during the difficult season:
Also you’ve got a guy like Andre Ethier. Give him a lot of credit because he’s been a professional, too. He could’ve been upset, he could’ve been raising hell. But I really want to thank him and his professionalism for saying, ‘OK, I’ll be the guy that goes to the bench, and I’m not going to be upset about it.'”
Manager Don Mattingly has shared a similar sentiment throughout the season and recently offered more praise for the outfielder and his remaining a good teammate. As Johnson notes, Kemp has been impressive as of late, particularly so during July and August.
Kemp finished the season hitting .287 with 25 home runs and 89 RBIs. His season and production got off to a slow start as he worked to recover from back-to-back injury-plagued seasons and fought some of the frustration that came with the position change.
Carl Crawford’s play prevented Ethier from emerging as the every day left fielder, but he did bat .290 as a pinch-hitter. While Ethier didn’t make quite the same impact as Kemp did, he could play a pivotal role for the Dodgers in the postseason.