One of the most underemphasized storylines of the 2016 Dodger season has been the absence of Andre Ethier. The Dodgers, despite cataclysmic injury fails all season long, have managed to put together a solid pitching effort. The team has allowed 328 runs, 4th-fewest in the National League. Contrast that with their offense, which has scored 379 runs, 9th-best in the Senior Circuit. To put it simply, the Dodgers are looking up at the San Francisco Giants because their offense has not kept pace.
To further illustrate the point, Dodger Leftfielders (where Ethier was slotted to spend most of his time in 2016) have struggled mightily vs. Right-handed pitchers this season. In 526 plate appearances so far this year, Ethier's primary replacements Howie Kendrick, Enrique Hernandez, Carl Crawford, Scott Van Slyke, and Trayce Thompson combined to produce a slash line of .211/.276/.335. Ethier's career slash against righties is .304/.383/.502 and his slash last year was an eerily similar .306/.383/.517. While it's not fair to say Ethier would have had all those at bats, he certainly would have been a preferable option to right-handed hitters Van Slyke, Hernandez, Kendrick, and Thompson, and he's simply a better hitter at this point than the released Crawford.
We got a chance to catch up with Ethier and get an update on his rehab, his return date goal, and the odd experience of being home during the baseball season.