Andre Ethier can be brilliant as seen against the Padres last night.
If Charles Dickens were alive and a sportswriter, he would be telling the tale of Dodger right fielder Andre Either, a classic saga of young man whose pure athletic talents led to fame and fortune yet who was beset by a mercurial blend of greatness and woe.
If that isn't Ethier in a nutshell, nothing is.
Sure, his stats, when looked at over the life of his career, seem pretty consistent. He has batted .272 once and .308 once, otherwise hovering around the career mark of .291. He holds the record for doubles among Dodger players, but his power numbers are relatively meager for someone of his stature.
He averages 20 home runs a year, but had only 11 in 2011 and has 16 this year. Except for 2009 when he had 106 RBI, he averages closer to 75 per season.
He has shown absolute brilliance at times. In 2010, he was leading the National League in home runs, RBI and batting average then broke his finger and was put on the DL. Even though he was selected to start on the NL All-Star Team with more than 2.7 million votes, he slumped down the stretch, finishing with a .292 batting average, 23 home runs and 82 RBI in 139 games.
He then began the next season on fire setting a new MLB record for April with a 23-game hitting streak, breaking the old record set by Joe Torre. He eventually hit in 30 straight. Later in the season, a bothersome knee reduced his output and muddied his reputation a bit when he said he was being forced to play while injured.
But, there is something about Andre that the fans love. It could be his sweet swing or his low-key demeanor or even his dependability in right where he won a Gold Glove last year.
So, there he was last night, batting in the ninth inning against the Padres in a game the Dodgers sorely need to win. But, they were down 3-2 and it didn't look good. Ethier, who at one point in the season led the MLB in RBIs, had a chance for some late game glory.
As if scripted by Dickens himself, the hero of our tale produced, knocking a game-tying home run that kept the Dodgers alive, only to win the game in extra innings in which Ethier scored the winning run.
Ethier can do wonderful things and he seemed long overdue especially with the "Great Expectations" for the revamped Dodger team.
Ethier now bats behind Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez in arguably the best lineup in baseball so one would expect a few dramatic homers here and there. He might even win a few games down the stretch for a Dodger team that is playing catch-up.
Now, that would be a wonderful story.