From 2008-2010, Andre Ethier established himself as one of the better power hitters in the National League. The Dodgers outfielder clubbed an average of about 25 home runs per season, slugging .504 in the process. But as L.A. languishes in 15th place among NL clubs in run scoring this year, Ethier has gone deep just 10 times while slugging .416. The lefty hasn't hit a homer since July 25, a stretch of 88 at-bats.
A major reason for Ethier's power outage is that he's not driving pitches thrown inside and at the knees like he usually does. From '08 to '10, he golfed low-and-inside pitches for extra bases:
Ethier slugged .469 against pitches thrown low and inside over that three-year stretch, besting the .343 league average for lefties by a considerable margin. But in 2011, that hot spot has disappeared:
He's slugging a paltry .188 against low-and-inside offerings, without a single homer hit on a pitch thrown in that location.
The Dodgers have a difficult decision to make with Ethier after this season. The 29-year-old is pulling down $9.25 million this year, and he's got one year of arbitration eligibility remaining before he hits free agency after 2012. Even with a tepid season so far, Ethier will easily make eight figures in 2012 should he go to arbitration.
If the Dodgers think his power will recover, then Ethier is likely worth the cash. If not, the cash-strapped club might choose to let someone else pay for a lumbering corner outfielder with mid-range pop.