Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Will Andre Ethier be the 30/100 player he was in 2009?

Since the Dodgers are not going to get that big bat that they desperately need, Andre Ethier will need to rebound in 2012 and have a successful season.

In 2011, Ethier was awful against left-handers. He batted .220 with only 1 homer.

2010 - .230 against lefties
2009 - .194 against lefties

The great blog, Baseball Professor shows us this graph. {linked here}

This graph shows the number of at-bats Ethier has had each year versus left-handed pitchers as compared to the league average. For his career Ethier has a .242 average versus LHP while hitting one home run every 52.6 at-bats. Against RHP he’s a career .309 hitter that averages one home run every 23.2 at-bats. It’s very important that Ethier minimizes his at-bats versus LHP if he wants to put up gaudy numbers.

Early in his career, Ethier was actually hitting pretty well against LHP as the Dodgers had the luxury of sitting him against really tough left-handed starters and the league hadn’t figured out how to pitch to him. In 2009, when he was a 30/100 hitter, Ethier, was at the league average in terms of percentage of at-bats versus LHP. Over the last two seasons, when his numbers — specifically the power numbers — have been down, we see that Ethier has been over the league average in terms of percentage of at-bats versus LHP.

Another graph. AB/HR vs LHP and RHP

Up until that great 31-homer, 106-RBI season in 2009, Ethier had been improving his power rates against both LHP and RHP each season. In 2010 he maintained a similar rate versus RHP but lost much of his power versus LHP. Last season his power versus RHP fell some more and his power versus LHP disappeared entirely.

Just in case if you were wondering, Juan Rivera batted a decent .289 in 129 at-bats against left-handers last season. Will Rivera take some at-bats away from Ethier next year?

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