Thursday, April 28, 2011

24 Consecutive Games With A Hit Makes ESPN's Karabell Notice Ethier's fantasy baseball guy, Eric Karabell, recently noticed Andre Ethier's hitting tear and concluded that even if Ethier's BABIP regresses, a batting title is still a realistic outcome for our own beloved RF (link insider only):

Fantasy owners have a tendency to assume that a player performing above and beyond his past history early in a season is an automatic sell-high option. But in the case of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who is in the midst of an April-record hitting streak (extended to 24 games Wednesday!), I'm not so sure that's the case. In March, I recommended numerous Dodgers as bounce-back choices, led by Matt Kemp, Ethier and Rafael Furcal and, to a lesser degree, James Loney and Jonathan Broxton (OK, so that's not working out), but as I watch Either hit against the Florida Marlins on Wednesday afternoon, I'm reminded that he can flat-out hit, and he looks versatile at the plate, stinging line drives all over the field.

Like many Dodgers, Either disappointed in 2010. Perhaps some of the team's problems were related to the turmoil surrounding the team and its ownership, but in Ethier's case, I think his issues can be blamed primarily on the broken finger he suffered in mid-May. Remember, Ethier was awesome early last season, as well; he was hitting .392 when he suffered the injury May 14. Simply put, he was baseball's top hitter at the time, with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 33 games. Then he missed a few weeks and was never the same, hitting a mere .263 with little power afterward. Coincidence? I think not!

As good as Ethier has been since joining the Dodgers, he never has been this good. His best season featured 31 home runs and 106 RBIs, with just a .272 batting average (pretty modest for a career year). A 23-game hitting streak in the season's first month can be overrated quite a bit. What if Ethier gets hurt again? What if he's merely an average hitter the rest of the way? I mean, his best season isn't exactly Hall of Fame-quality. Plus, no matter how well he's driving the ball to the opposite field, there's no way his .459 batting average on balls in play can be sustained. [...]

Interestingly enough, Ethier entered Wednesday not among the top players in fantasy baseball. His Player Rater rank was 52nd overall, 21st among outfielders, mainly because batting average is about the only thing he's thriving in. Ethier does have 30-homer power, but I'll take the under on that number, and he doesn't steal bases. I made the point on Wednesday's Baseball Today podcast that even when Ethier's BABIP regresses and takes his batting average with it, I could see this guy winning the 2011 batting title. If he hits .330 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs, basically his ESPN Fantasy preseason projections save for the batting average, you'll be quite pleased you didn't trade him thinking he was Danny Bautista after a terrific April.

photo: AP / Jeffrey M. Boan. [I know, it's amazing how close this photo is to this one that we published earlier. But the backgrounds are different. Eerie, right? (Or maybe shot at the same time from a different angle?)]


Jason said...

The pictures are definitely not from the same time. Ethier is wearing sunglasses in one but not the other.

Fred's Brim said...

Go Dre!

@Jason what hour are you into now? Have you gone crazy yet?

Steve Sax said...

Nice sleuthing Jason, you're right (that's what I get for publishing on an iPhone)

rbnlaw said...

And this my friends, is why I despise "Fantasy Sports."