You damn well better believe it! We all know about Matt Kemp, and Clayton Kershaw has to be in the conversation, given Justin Verlander‘s double award grab in 2011. But how about the guy who has battled back from injury and (so far at least…) learned how to beat the one problem that really plagued him his entire career?
How about 30-year-old Andre Ethier? All he has done so far is hit .348 with 2 home runs (including a go-ahead, 8th inning homer on his birthday that sealed a win for the Dodgers) and a league-leading 10 RBI. I’ve been saying all along that Ethier was one of the best hitters in baseball when healthy. And now he’s proving it.
Granted, he’s finally healthy, but there always seemed to be one thing or another holding Ethier back from greatness. If he can stay healthy in 2012, I fully expect MVP-caliber numbers. With his approach to the plate, the guys that are in the lineup around him, and that sweet left-handed swing, 30 home runs and 120 RBI are not even remotely out of the question.
Yes, I realize those are huge numbers. But watch the guy swing. He can get around on pitches inside, stay back on breaking balls away, and has enough strength to muscle the high ones into gaps. The biggest knock against Ethier throughout his career is that he couldn’t hit lefties. And the numbers absolutely backed that assertion up. But so far this season, Ethier has done nothing but rake against southpaws, torching the Padres’ Cory Leubke for a triple and a double in the opening series.
If Ethier plays the entire season and stays off the DL, I predict a line around .305/28/115. If the Dodgers are in contention, the only thing holding Ethier back from strong MVP support will be his own teammates.
Dodger fans, keep your fingers crossed – we need Ethier to stay healthy. If he does, this success won’t slow down any time soon. Dee Gordon will continue to get on base, mess with pitchers, and get Kemp, Ethier and Juan Rivera easy RBIs.
Before we know it, the Dodgers might have a five-game lead heading into May. *Knocks on wood*
Just remember, if Ethier does have that type of season – you heard it here first! Go Blue!
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