2011 Projection: Will Andre Ethier Be An Elite Outfielder In ’11?

After exploding in 2009 with 31 HR and 106 RBI, fantasy owners were clamoring about what Andre Ethier could be in 2010.  Could he emerge as one of the elite outfielders in the game?  Forget about just outfielders, could he emerge as one of the elite hitters in the game?  The fact is that the question owners should have been asking was if he could even repeat that success.  The answer would have been no (though there’s an asterisk), as Ethier posted the following line:

585 At Bats
.292 Batting Average (151 Hits)
23 Home Runs
82 RBI
71 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.363 On Base Percentage
.493 Slugging Percentage
.318 Batting Average on Balls in Play

When looking at the numbers, you have to remember that Ethier missed time with a finger injury which certainly played a role in his overall performance.  He was unbelievable over the first two months of the season, going 49-129 with 11 HR, 38 RBI and 25 R.  Granted, included in those numbers was a .452 BABIP in May, as well as HR/FB of 27.3% and 26.2% in April and May, respectively, so there are reasons to be skeptical about that success.

After he returned to the lineup in June he hit just 12 HR over 378 AB.  That alone shows you just how night and day his season was.

The question we need to be asking ourselves is which Ethier is the real one?  Is it the one that appeared to be among the elite over the first month and a half or is it the player who appeared average in the second half?

There’s no way we can reasonably expect him to be able to maintain the lofty numbers he showed early on.  Overall his HR/FB for the season was 13.8%, right around where he had been the previous two seasons:

  • 2008 – 14.1%
  • 2009 – 15.4%

While we can expect him to grow a little bit, taking the type of jump he showed in the first part of the season is just unrealistic.  He’ll turn 29-years old in April and is very much in his prime, but just keep expectations in check.  No player posted a HR/FB over 25.0% in 2010 (Joey Votto was at 25.0%) and only seven players were above 20.0%.  He may add power, but he’s not likely to be in this range, even if the finger injury was part of the reason he lost some power later in the season.

When healthy he spent the majority of his time hitting third in 2010, which is where you would expect him to hit again in 2011.  The Dodgers lineup is still taking shape, but with a healthy Rafael Furcal hitting in front of him and Matt Kemp, Juan Uribe and others behind him, you have to like Ethier’s potential to pick up both runs and RBI.  He already has two seasons with at least 90 runs scored and a 100 RBI campaign under his belt, both marks that you have to think a healthy Ethier can reach in 2011.

Throw in a solid average, given his solid eye at the plate (19.7% strikeout rate, 10.1% walk rate in 2010) and a realistic BABIP of .322, and Ethier really does bring the total package to the table.

Let’s take a look at what I would expect from him in 2011:

.295 (162-550), 30 HR, 100 RBI, 90 R, 5 SB, .322 BABIP, .368 OBP, .535 SLG

I know there are concerns given his performance over the final few months of the season, but an injury to his hand certainly goes a long way in helping to explain that.  While what he showed in the first two months is excessive, it still gives reason to believe that Ethier has what it takes to be among the elite outfielders in the game. 

What are your thoughts of Ethier?  How do you see him performing in 2011?  Are you concerned at all?

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

Breaking Down Ike Davis: 2011 And Beyond
Fantasy Fallout: Winter Meetings Day 1: Werth, Putz & More

5 comments

  1. Luis says:

    I think your projection is spot on.

  2. Frank Kim says:

    He seems to really struggle against lefties so I am not sure if he can reach the 30/100 mark.

  3. Hank says:

    Eithier’s 2010 season was impacted by more than just his hand injury. Kemp had a miserable season given his talents. Manny stunk. Furcal missed significant playing time and the morale around Dodger stadium (including the owner’s box) was not exactly stellar. Look for Either to hit 35 hr’s and drive in 110 in 2011. If healthy, he will be a top 5-10 outfielder.

  4. I think he can actually hit over 300, but, 295 is close enough. I think Ethier is an underated fantasy asset. I love a 300 hitter with 30 hr power. Outfield is really deep this year so he won’t be a fantasy OF 1 guy. He is as good of a number 2 as there is though. I have no concerns about the way he played down the stretch.

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