Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with Skip Schumaker #55 after hitting a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning during a game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 3-2.
Near the end of May, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier were the targets of heavy booing from hometown fans in Los Angeles, with many calling for Ethier to get traded away as soon as possible. But Ethier has made the Dodgers patchwork outfield of the last few months much better than we could have expected.
He was struggling immensely midway into June with a .229/.315/.346 stat line and just 15 RBI in the first 60 games of 2013. Since June 11th, 32 games, Ethier is hitting .342/.413/.468 with 14 RBI and 10 extra base hits.
Ethier's success is aligned very closely with the team's surge that has them at 0.5 back of first place in the NL West. Seeing the Dodgers at two games over .500 and Ethier's batting average at .269 would normally be a disappointment, but with what the team has gone through this season it is almost a relief that it is not worse.
So while his trade stock has has probably increased, it looks more likely that he will be staying in Los Angeles. The funny thing is, as the trade deadline gets closer there has been less demand from fans about trading the Dodger right fielder even though the team would most likely get a better return for him now that he is producing more.
On Friday he hit the game winning homer in the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie in Washington against the Nationals, producing an enormous amount of love from fans on Twitter.
The fans are not the only ones to praise Ethier lately, Don Mattingly expressed his appreciation for how flexible he has been while the team deals with injuries, "his flexibility has allowed us to do a lot of things. We have been able to put him in center, play Yasiel in right, when Matt came back he's in left."
With the rocket arm that Puig packs in right field, it makes sense to play Ethier in left field, but a veteran guy like him must feel insulted to get kicked out of his position by a 22-year old rookie. In fact he has only played in his native position twice since June 3rd.
It is reasons like this that Mattingly said managing Ethier has, "been a joy for me. It's one of those things you have to talk to guys about, and if you have four unhappy guys it's not a great situation. But Andre has made it easy."
So not only has Ethier's hitting picked up significantly, he is playing with greater dedication to the team. Los Angeles appeared so ready to ditch their right fielder, but he has proven to be much more valuable to the team in the last month, and he should be more than welcome to stay.