ANDRE ETHIER, 30, outfielder
Final 2012 stats: .284 batting average, 20 home runs, 89 RBI, 36 doubles, 79 runs and .351 on-base and .460 slugging percentages.
Contract status: Signed for the next five seasons at $85 million.
The good: Good pretty much describes his season. He led the team in RBIs, doubles and runs, and was second in home runs and slugging percentage. Hit .509 when ahead in the count and .331 at home. Committed only one error in 149 games. Played the last six weeks with a huge blister on the palm of his right hand. Voted one of baseball’s hottest players ever.
The bad: Went on the disabled list in July with an oblique injury. Hit .231 when behind in the count. Batted .222 against left-handers, which was actually slight improvement over 2011 (.220) but a long way from the guy who hit .351 against lefties his first season, and .279 the next.
What’s next: Rumors flew early this off-season that the Dodgers were interested in trading him. For whatever it’s worth, General Manager Ned Colletti quickly denied it. Since their left-fielder (Carl Crawford) and center-fielder (Matt Kemp) are coming off surgery, hard to imagine they would trade Ethier.
The take: Like most, Ethier is measured not just by results. He’s evaluated vs. expectations. And by that measure, he did fine but not exceptionally.
You can’t really complain about the season he put together. Aside from a 30-game stretch in the middle of the summer when he went without a home run, he was pretty much the team’s most consistent hitting threat. And the often-emotional Ethier seemed on his best behavior all year.
It’s just with Ethier, you can’t help but expect – or at least hope – for more. That his 2009 season (31 homers, 106 RBI, 42 doubles) was still something he will build on, not look back upon as a career-year.
Ethier always searched out motivation from perceived slights to his ability, but now that he has that fat contract, it will be interesting to watch how he develops. If he’s not feeling loved now, he never will.
Manager Don Mattingly seemed more willing to spot platoon him against left-handers the second half, so there could be more of that in his future, though there is currently no right-handed complement.
This is no longer the Ethier-Matt Kemp Show, not with the addition of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. With Ethier, though, you don’t want him relaxing too much.