Andre Ethier: Overrated or Underrated?
Andre Ethier is a true blue Dodger, having spent his entire career in Los Angeles. Is he overrated or underrated by Dodgers fans?
Andre Ethier doesn’t require an introduction for Dodgers fans. The outfielder, who spent his entire career in Chavez Ravine, built a reputation as a clutch player who played the game like a kid on the playground.
In a new series, we will be reviewing Dodgers players, past and current, to understand whether they are overrated or underrated by the fan base. In other words, how would people who don’t root for the Boys in Blue view these players?
We start with Ethier.
The left-handed outfielder, who has played in the third most postseason games in club history, placed his name among Dodger greats on several leaderboards during his time in Los Angeles. He played in the 13th most games, hit the 12th most home runs, compiled the 17th most hits, and accumulated the 33rd most wins above replacement among Dodger players over his 12-year career. He also recorded the eighth most doubles (303) and ninth most extra base hits (499) in franchise history.
There is no question where Ethier stands in Dodgers lore.
But where does he stand among baseball enthusiasts? Is he worthy of the accolades from Dodgers fans?
The most obvious way to measure a player’s credibility among fans is to use All-Star appearances—given they are heavily weighted by the local fan base, and relative to positional competition, but at least a starting point. Ethier appeared in only two All-Star games during his career. Ironically, his appearances in 2010 and 2011 don’t even mark his most productive seasons.
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Ethier was honored league-wide on two other occasions. He won the National League Gold Glove Award for right fielders in 2011, and the Silver Slugger Award in 2009. Other than that, his national recognition was limited. He was named NL Player of the Week only four times in his career. He never led the league in any major statistical category. And his most notable top ten finish came in 2008, when he logged the ninth best batting average (.308).
Ethier is a player who was never a great player, but over several seasons, he was a consistent producer and defensive stalwart. The advanced metrics tell the best story about his play.
His 24.4 fWAR total between 2006-2015, the prime years of his career, ranks 60th among positional players during that timeframe. And if you’re thinking his defense props that value up, when you consider his offensive production in relation to his 5000+ plate appearances, he ranks 19th among hitters with at least that many trips to the plate in terms of weighted runs created (wRC+) between 2006-2015.
Perhaps we should have started with a more obvious case than Ethier. Is he overrated or underrated? He is situated about where you would expect him to be. He is far from a Hall-of-Fame player, but through his consistency and loyalty to one franchise, he was able to climb many of the team’s leaderboards. On a national level, he fails the test of being considered a star, but the advanced metrics appreciate his value.
In the end, he is probably underrated as a player. There are few players who were as reliable as Ethier in the late aughts and early teens of the 21st century. This is best exemplified by his 30-game hitting streak in 2011. He just came to the ballpark every day, made his contribution, and then did it again the next day.
Consistency doesn’t often win you national recognition, which is why Ethier is underrated as a ballplayer.