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Is it wrong to want more from Andre Ethier?

June 8, 2011 | 11:28 am

I don’t think so.

Listen, it’s not like Andre Ethier is having some kind of miserable year so far. A lot of outfielders -- probably most -- would happily accept his current numbers: .324 batting average, five homers, 30 RBI, .407 on-base percentage, .458 slugging percentage.

Only for the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, nothing particularly special. In terms of power numbers, certainly nothing to make the sporting heart go aflutter.

If you’re batting third, you should be the best hitter in the lineup. You should be driving the ball. The one guy the other team never wants to see come up with runners on base.

Yet Ethier has two home runs in his last 36 games. He has two doubles in his last 114 at-bats, and 13 RBI -- which includes runs batted in his last four consecutive games.

It’s not wrong to expect more power production.

Certainly, you know he wants more. He is currently the third-highest-paid player on the team at $9.5 million. Next season is his last year of arbitration eligibility. He wanted a multiyear deal like Chad Billingsley got before the season started and seemed miffed when he did not receive a similar opportunity.

But how much would you be willing to pay for Ethier right now? He had that phenomenal 30-game hitting streak early in the season, though now you have to wonder if keeping it alive subconsciously turned him into a quasi-singles hitter.

Last season he had better numbers through 35 games (.392, 11 homers, 38 RBI, .744 slugging) than he does now through 61 games (.324, 5, 30, .458).  Of course, he was on a crazy triple-crown pace, but still that’s a significant drop-off in power. Then he fractured a pinky, and the stroke hasn’t been quite the same.

Ethier and cleanup hitter Matt Kemp (.320, 17, 50, .596) are the only real consistent power threats in the Dodgers lineup, or least they should be.

However winnable the division may look to the faithful, it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers making a real chase without Ethier upping his game.


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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Andre Ethier. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press