2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 46: Is Dodgers' Andre Ethier Becoming an Elite OF?

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2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 46: Is Dodgers' Andre Ethier Becoming an Elite OF?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Andre Ethier appeared primed to surpass his 2009 breakout season last year, until a broken finger sidelined him for two weeks.

At the time of the injury in mid-May, Ethier was batting .392 (thanks to an inflated BABIP). By the end of June, his batting average had dropped to .312. Having smashed 11 HRs before the injury, he then totaled just 12 bombs in the final four months of the season.

In late September, Ethier said he had finally got “full strength back” in his hand. An entire 2011 season of Ethier at “full strength” could yield totals similar to the 92/31/106/ line he posted in 2009.

The only question: Who will protect Ethier in the Dodgers lineup?

Rafael Furcal will undoubtedly lead off. New manager Don Mattingly has mentioned Casey Blake could hit second, and Loney would be a decent fit there as well. Kemp and Ethier would then hit third and fourth, respectively, leaving Juan Uribe to bat fifth behind Ethier.

Working in Ethier’s favor, however, is his improved pitch-recognition skills. He was one of only seven players last season to post above-average results against fastballs, sliders, cutters, curveballs, changeups, and splitters.

Also worthy of noting is Ethier’s steady decline in the contact department. His strikeout rate has climbed with his power (which is to be expected), but his contact rate (85.4, 83.0, 81.8) and swinging strike rate (6.2, 7.5, 8.5) in recent years are trending in the wrong direction.

All things considered, Ethier remains capable of approaching 30 HRs, 100 RBI and a .300 batting average. Just don’t draft him as an elite outfielder.

2010 stats 585 71 23 82 2 .292
3-year average 622 84 25 88 5 .289
2011 FBI Forecast 625 85 26 95 4 .287


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