Friday, October 30, 2009

The Ethier Difference Is Clutchability

Congratulations to Andre Ethier, who won the Pepsi 2009 Major League Baseball's Clutch Performer of the Year presented by Pepsi, which SoSG reader Josh S pointed out happens to be sponsored by Pepsi. The award, won by fan vote, reflects Ethier's six walk-off hits this year, four of them dramatic home runs.

Ethier led the Major Leagues with six walk-off hits, including a big league-best four walk-off home runs. That tied the MLB record for walk-off homers in one year previously set by Jimmy Foxx of the Red Sox in 1940 and Roy Sievers of the Washington Senators in 1957.

The other finalists for Clutch Performer of the Year were Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Ethier's six walk-off hits were the most in one season for a Major Leaguer since at least 1974, one more than David Ortiz's five for Boston in 2006, Ken Hrbek's five for Minnesota in 1987 and Cory Snyder's five for Cleveland in 1987. The four walk-off homers were the most for any player in a season since at least 1974.

Ethier had three walk-off hits in June alone: June 5, a two-run double that beat Philadelphia, 4-3; June 6, his second home run of the game coming in the 12th inning of a 3-2 win over Philadelphia; and June 29, a two-run homer in the 13th inning to beat Colorado, 4-2.

But he also hit two homers against San Diego in a 6-4 win June 9; he had a two-run triple in a 6-4 win over Anaheim June 20; and his first three-homer game with six RBIs in an 8-2 win over Seattle June 26. On the month, he slugged nine of his team-high 31 homers.

"It's just about having fun and enjoying the moment," Ethier said after the June 29 walk-off. "In a situation like that, it's just about emotion and excitement. You can see the energy going into the situation and one swing can end the game. I've just been trying to learn to balance that energy." [...]

"I still think he's got some more [untapped ability] once he gets the hitting zone figured out," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

Since the start of 2008, Ethier's nine walk-off hits lead the Majors. His 21 homers at Dodger Stadium this year were the most for a left-handed hitter in stadium history.

It's also noted that Ethier was one of the few Dodger players to attend the Dodgers' last press conference of the season, along with Ned Colletti and Joe Torre (and Jon Garland). Thanks for being a classy and clutch Dodger this season, Andre, and congratulations on your award!

Can I get a picture with you, to celebrate?


NicJ said...

Who needs a world series trophy when you have this?

5683KOPI said...

I'm glad he's on the team, he really is a great player and awesome guy!