Corridor of Fame: Andre Ethier

A series dedicated to recalling the many players that won’t make Cooperstown but gave us, the fans hall of fame memories filled with great pleasure, happiness and enjoyment.

I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don't I have the numbers to be inducted?

Sammy Sosa

Taken with the 62nd overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft, Andre Ethier was drafted by the Oakland Athletics for the 2nd time in 2 years. Originally taken in the 37th round of the 2001 Draft; Ethier elected not to sign with the A’s, instead returning back to Arizona State University having transferred away in the fall of 2000.

The decision was a good one as he would hit .371/.476/.559 with 14 HRs and a quite ludicrous 9% K rate with a 15.38% walk rate. His impressive offensive production translated into a signing bonus of $580,000, considerably more than the amount he would earn in the minor league systems of Oakland and Los Angeles.

He would begin his professional career with the Athletics Single-A affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians and the Kane County Cougars in the North West and Midwest leagues respectively. In the 50 games of his season following his draft, Ethier hit .296 with 16 extra base hits.

Despite his relative success in the Pac-10 Division 1 league with ASU and in Single-A ball, Ethier really began to break out in 2004 with the Modesto A’s in Advanced A+ ball. His .313/.383/.442 and 26% extra base hit rate.

His professional breakout season was enough for the Athletics to promote him to AA Midland in the Texas League where he would play alongside future Major Leaguers; Dallas Braden and Brad Ziegler. Again, Ethier would develop significantly at the plate posting a slash line of .319/.385/.497 with 18 HRs. His development in AA with Midland paved the way for his subsequent promotion to AAA Sacramento at the end of the season.

Ethier would receive mid-season All-Star honours in the Texas League before being voted both the leagues MVP and also Oaklands Minor League player of the year.

With both Oakland and Ethier himself sensing his Major League debut wasn’t far away having verified himself in the often more challenging AA league, Ethier continued his 2005 season in the Arizona Fall League for Phoenix. He would go onto slug .598 with a 1.093 OPS and 21 RBI just 82 ABs.

2005 couldn’t have gone much better for Ethier as he put himself firmly on the map of not only prospects but of big-league clubs also. On the 13th December, Ethier was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for future all-star, Milton Bradley and infield prospect; Antonio Perez.

Ethier would open up the 2007 campaign with AAA Las Vegas before being called up for his big-league debut in early May when Ricky Ledee went on the disabled list. He would double off Luis Vizcaino (Arizona Diamondbacks) for his 1st career hit.

His 2006 and rookie campaign would prove to be a stellar one as he hit .307 (3rd amongst all rookies) which was enough to finish him tied fourth with Matt Cain (San Francisco) in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Hanley Ramirez (Florida), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington), Dan Uggla (Florida) and John Johnson (Florida).

Ethier confirmed his name as a regular one in the Dodgers line up in 2007 as he hit 0.284 with 13 HRs and 64 RBI. And when he wasn’t a fixture in the starting line-up, Ethier quickly established himself as an impact bat off of the bench, slugging 2 pinch hit home runs, including a go ahead 3 run shot at Wrigley Field to complete a Dodgers comeback win.

In the years which followed, Ethier became a mainstay in the heart of the Dodgers line-up, notably leading Los Angeles with 20HRs and a 0.305 average in 2008. His ability to consistently come up with a lethal combination of clutch, power and contact established him as one of the premier offensive talents in baseball.

Andre blossomed into one of baseball’s most exciting stars in 2009. He set an NL record with four walk-off homers, clubbing 31 in all. Twenty-two of those came at Dodger Stadium—the most ever by anyone in a season there. Eighteen either tied games or gave Los Angeles the lead. Andre hit ’em in bunches. He had six multi-homer games, including a three-homer outburst against the Seattle Mariners. – Jockbio

Following the 2009 season amidst rumours of figuratively dismantling the roster to address persistent areas of needed improvement to get over the playoff hump, the Dodgers rewarded their young star with a 2-year $15m deal.

It would turn out that 2009 would be as good as it statistically got for Ethier at the plate as he set career highs in HRs, RBI, runs scored and OPS. Despite this, he would be voted to his first All-Star game in the summer of 2010.

2011 saw a wave of accolades for Ethier, firstly breaking Joe Torre’s 22 game hit streak in April against the Florida Marling’s before having it snapped on May 7th against the New York Mets. In July, he would be called up for his second and final All-Star game appearance at Arizona’s Chase Field. His 2011 would be capped with his first and only Gold Glove Award, one of a record three for the Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw & Matt Kemp).

Again, the Dodgers rewarded their uber consistent outfielder with a contract extension, this time to the tune of $85m over 5-years with a $17.5m vesting option for 2017.

Ethier continued to play at a premier level for the Dodgers over both 2012 (.284/.351/.460) and 2013 (.272/.360/.423) with a combined 32HRs, 141 RBIs and 133 runs scored. In addition to his offensive value, Ethier supplemented his worth to the Dodgers by transitioning from a traditional corner outfielder to one exceptionally competent in centerfield when Matt Kemp went down injured. It would a position he would play 144 games at during his 10-year Major League career.

Ethier’s new found positional versatility was something that highlighted him in a crowded Dodgers outfield with the arrivals of both Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford in 2014.

Despite beginning to lose regular at bats in an outfield which boasted Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig; Ethier remained an ultimate professional in his new everyday role off of the bench.

His professionalism as highlighted in article with the Los Angeles Times which praises his professionalism showing up for the pre-game autographs, photos and remaining popular with the fans.

Ethier was able to remain completely professional over the entire situation, unlike some past Dodger players who would publicly complain about getting less time on the field and possibly losing their positions. Ethier continued to show up for the pre-game autographs and photos, continuing to remain normal and popular among his fans.

His 130 games and slashline of .249/.322/.370 with just 4HRs began to signify that Ethier’s best days were quite clearly behind him.

Despite a reduced role in 2014, Ethier quickly regained a starting job in the Dodgers outfield in the early part of the 2015 season, largely in part to injuries to both Puig and Crawford. Although unable to return to his 20+ HR seasons which distinguished the early parts of his career, Ethier remained the definitive professional turning in a 0.294 batting average with 20 doubles and 7 triples.

Having demonstrated that he can still be more than competent at the Major League level, Ethier went into Spring Training of 2016 firmly in the mix of winning a starting job in the Dodgers outfield.

Unfortunately to wasn’t to be as Ethier would suffer a broken right tibia after fouling a ball off his shin in a Spring Training Cactus League game. Despite being scheduled to miss between 3-4 months of the season, Ethier wouldn’t end up re-joining the Dodgers until September 10th. From then on, he would only record 30 at-bats over both the end of the regular season and also the Dodgers playoff appearances.

Ethier’s bad luck wouldn’t stop there, for the second straight Spring Training he would get hurt. This time herniating a disc in back, an injury which would send him back to the disabled list and not return to the active roster until September 1st. Just as was the case the year before, Ethier returned to the Dodgers in a role which saw him nearly exclusively used from the bench.

Following the Dodgers World series loss to the since disgraced Houston Astros, the Dodgers declined the $17.5m option on Ethier’s contract rendering the former All-Star a free agent for the first time in his career.

After a U-turn on immediate retirement following the expiration of his Dodgers contract, Ethier decided to hang his cleats up on July 25th 2017.

Despite not being bound for Cooperstown, Andre Ethier becomes the first inductee within the Four Bases Corridor of Fame. With a career filled from start to finish with an exceptionally talented bat, Ethier combined on field consistency, health and a love for the game to produce a superb career.

With a thick head of dark hair and a California tan, Ethier was long seen as one of the most likeable guys in the league and a real fan favourite. Collectively these traits certainly epitomise the perfect ballplayer, just not the statistical one.

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