Fair question, isn’t it? I mean there’s no question that Andre Ethier has been awful, and Carl Crawford has been absolutely putrid. They’ve both been worth a combined -0.4 fWAR, meaning if we replace them with the hypothetical “replacement player”, the Dodgers would be nearly half a win better off. If we replace them with a player worth 0.6 fWAR thus far, the Dodgers would have gained a full win on the rest of the division at this point.
Now, this isn’t saying that Ethier and Crawford won’t turn it around, I think it’s possible that they will. Their their track record says that they will. They aren’t particularly old, Crawford turns 33 in August, Ethier just turned 32, yet it feels different this time around. Carl Crawford has the interesting distinction of having all 3 major stat lines (average/on base percentage/slugging) in the .200′s with .209/.229/.299. Ethier’s line is less of a statistical oddity, and more of a statistical shame. A triple slash line of .194/.257/.284 isn’t anything to be proud of.
What’s even more sad is Andre Ethier’s spray chart:
Look at all those green diamonds. So many ground balls, 9 fly balls, versus only 7 line drives. Ground balls aren’t very good outcomes for a hitter like Ethier because he’s simply not fast, fly balls can turn into home runs, line drives turn into hits, not ground balls very often.
So I just showed you something you already know. They’ve been miserable. But also, like i’ve said, this doesn’t mean they’ll continue to me bad, so lets bring some numbers into this. Fangraphs uses projection systems to attempt to predict players lines. I’ve looked at the updated versions of the projections, updated means that the system adjusts it’s original projection to how they’ve performed thus far, and shows how they think they’ll perform the rest of the way. So ZIPS shows
Crawford to hit .252/.289/.384 and be a 0.9 fWAR player the rest of the way
Ethier to his .246/.322/.378 and be worth 1.3 fWAR the rest of the way
Joc Pederson to hit .253/.314/.408 and be worth 2.1 fWAR the rest of the way
Oh, hey that last name’s kinda interesting. Joc Pederson, that guy who’s hitting .395/.500/.697 down in Albuquerque. Unlike most mashers down there he’s actually a prospect, and has the name recognition.
Joc Pederson is the Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect, No. 34 in baseball, and I still think he’s underrated. #BA100
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) February 20, 2014
He’s hit in Albuquerque, he’s hit away, he’s hit everywhere. And at some point, you’re not going to be able to keep a prospect with a .513 wOBA versus the highest level competition the minors has to offer down.
I don’t think we really have the answer to when exactly Pederson would be called up, there’s a lot of variables that go into this. One major one being a trade (for future Dodger Cliff Lee later, possibly?). We can’t accurately predict things like that, however a team with championship aspirations is probably not going to be able to carry 2 far below average outfielders when they have a top 40 prospect in all of baseball ready to take the league by storm.
I think Ethier and Crawford get copious amounts of time to turn this around simply because of what they’re getting paid, but if history tells us anything, they might want to turn it around before June 2nd.