Baseball's best team needs a former Sun Devil in October

Andre Ethier has overcome injuries and succeeded

Former Sun Devil and current outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Andre Ethier, deserves one more chance at October glory.

Ethier, who was inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame in 2014, hit .371  over his two-year, 2002-03 ASU career and was part of the 2003 team that made it to the Super Regionals

Ethier’s time at ASU prepared him for this exact situation. Most top players do not get rejected from Division I schools during their freshman years only to come back a few years later and string together a Hall-of-Fame-worthy college career.

Coming back to ASU as a sophomore in 2001, after many of his teammates had been with the team for a year, is similar to the situation Ethier is experiencing now with the Dodgers, who have arguably been the best team in baseball this season.

After a slow start, the Dodgers heated up and eventually put together the best 50-game stretch since 1912 giving them a 43-7 record for June 7 to August 5. 

They did this all without Ethier. The postseason roster will boast names such as Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw. 

“Bellinger has a good relationship with Ethier,” Matthew Moreno, managing editor of DodgerBlue.com, said. “There’s a lot of good-natured ribbing that goes on between them. Ethier helps keep Bellinger grounded.” 

Bellinger is one of the fastest-rising players in Major League Baseball. At only 22 years old, he broke the record for most home runs hit in a season by a National League rookie, even though he was not called up until late April.

Having a player like the 35-year-old Ethier to keep Bellinger, and other young players, level-headed in October is something that would only benefit Los Angeles. 

Even though Ethier has battled injuries over the past two seasons and only made his 2017 debut on Sept. 1, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has confidence in him. 

“Roberts has said he’s not stressing results (with Ethier),” Moreno said. “It is all about getting him at-bats and the process of working him back into the lineup.” 

Ethier was in a similar situation in 2016, as well.

In 2016, Ethier played in only 16 games late in the year after fouling a ball off his shin in March and fracturing his right tibia. He made the postseason roster, however, and connected for a home run against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series in one of his four at-bats that series. 

The clutch gene is obviously in his DNA.

Ethier has been dealing with a back injury since the spring. Will he be given the same opportunities in October with outfielders Curtis Granderson and Joc Pederson also vying for spots? 

“I think he’s a lock,” Moreno said. “I don’t how many starts he would receive, and he’s said the team doesn’t see him being able to play much because of how much time he’s missed, but he has proven he’s deserving.” 

Upon his return this year, Ethier is batting .267 with eight hits in 30 at-bats including a game-tying home run in Philadelphia on Sept. 21. 

Granderson has posted a measly .147 batting average in 33 games with the Dodgers, and Joc Pederson was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City late in the year to work on his swing. 

Based on current production among the three outfielders, Ethier, albeit in a brief stretch, has been the most consistent. 

While he is not the all-star he once was in 2010-11, Ethier still has gas left in the tank. 

“He brings a good veteran presence,” Moreno said. “He’s an aging outfielder who doesn’t offer a whole lot defensively, but he’s not inept. He still has a fairly accurate throwing arm and will be around to hopefully swing the bat well.”

Although postseason rosters have not officially been released, Ethier deserves his place in the Dodgers' dugout to help them reach and win the World Series that has eluded them since 1988


Reach the columnist at Steven.Slobodzian@asu.edu or follow @PSlobodzianASU on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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