Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier follows through on a run-scoring single… (Bob Levey / Getty Images )
As my teenage boys are fond of saying, “Wait, what?”
The left-handed hitting Andre Ethier has pretty much owned right-handed pitchers throughout his six-year career, batting .308 with a .526 slugging percentage. It has never been a problem.
Left-handers have been another matter, the sour to the sweet from the other side. For his career, the Dodgers' right fielder has a .244 batting average and .363 slugging percentage against lefties.
And in recent years, the problem had only grown more exacerbated. In his last three seasons, Ethier hit a combined .215 against left-handers. It was enough of a lineup quandary that in the offseason Manager Don Mattingly said he might use Ethier and James Loney in a quasi-platoon this season. And that Ethier's emotions wasted 100 at-bats last year.
That’s not exactly an issue with Ethier now. To start the 2012 season, Ethier is hitting .333 against left-handers and .273 against right-handers (although his slugging percentage is .727 vs. righties and .525 vs. lefties).
Maybe Mattingly fired up Ethier, maybe he’s just finally healthy, maybe he’s more focused in a contract year and maybe he’s just figured it out.
It’s not like he’s never had success against left-handers before. He actually hit .351 against lefties during his first season in 2006.
Ethier has been overshadowed by Matt Kemp’s tremendous start, but he trails Kemp by one for the major-league lead in RBIs with 19 in 14 games and is sixth in the National League in slugging percentage (.648).
When Ethier is on, his swing is as smooth as anyone’s in baseball. And right now, that’s true against pitchers using either arm.
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As everyone was saying, why can't Andre Ethier hit right-handers?