Coming to a Los Angeles milk carton: Andre Ethier

Yo Andre! Dodgers fans are wondering what happened, too! (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

So, you think you’re a crackerjack Los Angeles Dodgers fan who knows a lot about the team? Would you win a round of “True Blue Trivia” at your local bar and wow everyone with your knowledge of the Dodgers?

I’ve got a question about the only Major League Baseball team from Los Angeles (yes, that excludes you, Los Angeles Angels Not From Los Angeles!). Are you up for the Dodger Challenge?

Question: What do Amelia Earhart, D.B. Cooper, Jimmy Hoffa and Andre Ethier all have in common?

Answer: Each of them is missing.

Earhart disappeared on her famous round-the-world flight in 1937. Cooper skyjacked a plane and vanished in 1971 and Hoffa hasn’t been seen since 1975. Ethier has slowly been disappearing since June, but at least he is still alive and accounted for.

Ethier and his No. 16 jersey have been manning right field at Chavez Ravine every day this summer for the Dodgers. The problem is that Ethier at the plate is probably on the back of milk cartons all over Los Angeles with the words “Have you seen my bat?” emblazoned at the top.

The 29-year-old Ethier was supposed to be ready to embrace being the face of the Dodgers this season. Ethier said on MLB Network during spring training back in March that he wasn’t an outspoken guy, but that he realized he was one of the veterans on the team and that he was finally ready to be “the man.”

I’m not a professional baseball player, but the last time I checked, watching your offensive stats decline faster than tact on an episode of “Real Housewives” isn’t being “the man.” Ethier’s offensive numbers have plummeted all summer, and you have to wonder why.

Take a gander at these telling figures:

  • In June, Ethier hit .300 and had 14 RBIs. In July, his average dropped to .261 and his run production fell to eight. So far in August, Ethier’s average is a paltry .234 and he has only driven in three runs.
  • Ethier’s slugging percentage has fallen from .440 in June to .420 in July to … gulp! … .298 in August.
  • In June, Ethier’s on-base-percentage (OBP) was .345. In July, it was a respectable .340. Two-thirds of the way through August and Ethier’s OBP has fallen to .321.

What in the name of Tommy Lasorda has happened to Ethier?

We all know that Ethier hasn’t forgotten how to hit. If you can show me a sweeter left-handed swing in the bigs, I would sure like to see it (I don’t want to hear it from the Josh Hamilton and Jay Bruce fans … this was said for effect!). In 2009, after Ethier smacked 31 homers and drove in 106 runs, he seemed destined for greatness.

Last season, Ethier still had good numbers – 23 homers and 82 RBIs – but a closer look reveals a troubling trend. In 2008, Ethier went an average of six at-bats per strikeout. This season, he is striking out an average of once every 4.6 times at the plate.

In addition, in 2009 Ethier knocked a homer once in 19.2 times to the plate. This season? Our right fielder is going deep every 43.1 at-bats.

I’m not saying that we should trade Ethier. I’m not saying we should bench him, either. I’m just saying that something isn’t right with the guy with the sweet swing and the contagious smile.

This season, it’s not a big deal whether or not Ethier works out his troubles at the plate. But, if the Dodgers are going to turn things around next year, No. 16 had better get his head on straight and his bat on right.

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