Dodgers: Appreciating Andre Ethier and his clutch gene
In honor of Joc Pederson’s big night on September 4, I remember the last Dodgers hitter to use that bat model with that much success; Andre Ethier himself.
Ethier loaned Pederson a bat back when the Dodgers visited Arizona, Ethier’s childhood state, and Joc has demonstrated some of Ethier’s powerful clutch abilities in the games since, including JocPop’s historic six at-bat stretch of five home runs and a double that stretched across Tuesday and Wednesday. It started working in AZ, and it hasn’t stopped working since. Here’s what Joc told MLB.com about the bat:
"Pederson said former Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier visited the team Saturday, and the outfielder used one of the bats that Ethier gave him.“He says it had a lot of hits in it,” Pederson said. “I think they’re just left over. But he says that his bats are way harder than everyone else’s, so they’re still hard.”"
Whatever the reason behind Pederson’s outburst, any excuse to talk about the man known to many Dodger fans as “Daddy” works for me. Thus, in this article, I will be bringing back some memories of Andre from my own mental archive and plenty from my friends as well.
I grew up at a time where Ethier was the main draw, alongside a budding face of the franchise in Clayton Kershaw. Ethier and Matt Kemp, those were every kid’s favorite players during their primes, with every teammate of mine in Little League wanting the number 16 on their back.
That was for good reason too, as Ethier, from 2009 to 2011 was probably the most consistent Dodger hitter, though Matt Kemp stans would certainly take issue with that. Over that three-season span, Ethier collected a Silver Slugger award, two All-Star appearances, and a Gold Glove award while hitting 65 home runs in that span.
He hit .292 in back-to-back seasons (2010 and 2011) and in 2009 eclipsed the 40-double plateau (42 doubles). That gave the Arizona State University product 76 extra-base hits on the season. For context, this season Cody Bellinger has 77 to this point in the season (though this season is much more power-friendly than any during Ethier’s prime).
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But beyond the stat lines, which at times were not as impressive as his day in day out success, Ethier was a fan favorite for his walk-off antics and clutch performances in general. Ethier led all major leaguers in walk-off hits from 2008-2010 with 11 according to Baseball-Reference. The next closest player had just five.
That was the time to be a growing Dodger fan, when the team had clearly defined stars in Ethier, Kemp, and Kershaw. Insert Manny Ramirez and Hanley Ramirez into the lineup and throw in a Cy Young candidate in Zach Greinke and that began the Dodgers run of greatness that, with limited interruption, has spanned the last decade.
The most recent Ethier memory that came to my mind was when he came in against the Houston Astros in the World Series in 2017 and actually did some damage, driving in a run in Game 7 to try and keep the Dodgers alive. That would be his last time on the field for the Dodgers, but not the last time in any of our memories.
I remember Ethier for how he owned right field with the bat and the glove, as most of his 13 walk-off hits landed somewhere on the right-field grass. He walked it off with a grand slam to center field; he walked it off with a walk; mostly, he walked it off with plenty of singles. He had a few multi-homer games with the second home run being the walk-off blast. All in all, he finished up his career with 7 walk-off home runs, imbuing Dodger Stadium with walk-off magic that has lasted all the way until today, in 2019, even without Vin Scully calling them as they left the yard.
We have more to thank Ethier for than his bat he gave to Joc, but that’s as good a place to start as any.