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Andre Ethier’s Hit Streak Stuck at 29 Games

May 5, 2011 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Willie Davis holds the Los Angeles Dodgers record for the longest hitting streak.
You’re going to be hearing a lot about Willie Davis in the coming days.

We’ve been mum on Andre Ethier’s impressive hitting streak, so after he was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup because of an elbow inflammation, we thought we’d tip our hat to what he’s accomplished.

The streak now sits at 29 games, and because he didn’t enter Wednesday’s game, it remains intact, although it’s worth noting that he was willing to pinch hit in the game – something that would have seriously jeopardized the run.

Ethier is just past the halfway point to Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game run and he sits just two games shy of the Dodger record, Willie Davis’ 31-game streak set in 1969.

Heading into the season, we ranked Ethier just outside of the top 15 outfielders and we’ve been bang on with that prediction so far.

The Dodgers are off Thursday, giving Ethier’s elbow a chance to heal up before the team heads to New York for a weekend series against the Mets. The streak has now started to garner major national attention, meaning the second half is going to be way harder to accomplish.

Let’s look forward to the next few pitchers Ethier is scheduled to face as we try to determine how long his run will last.

On Friday, the Mets will send lefty Jonathon Niese to the mound, a pitcher Ethier has never faced. Niese isn’t exactly tough on lefties (.275 BAA), however, Ethier doesn’t exactly fare well against southpaws (.229 BA). It’s pretty amazing he’s hit in 29 straight games despite having such little success against left-handed pitching.

Saturday’s starter for the Mets is righty Chris Young, who looked almost unhittable in his last start. Ethier has plenty of experience against Young from the hurler’s days with division rival San Diego, and he’s generally owned the lanky righty, going 12-for-29 (.404 BA) is his career. It’s safe to say that if Ethier hits 30 on Friday, he’ll reach 31 on Saturday.

That brings us to Sunday, when the Mets will start right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, a pitcher Ethier has only had two at-bats against, one of which resulted in a double. It’s too small a sample size to draw a conclusion, so all bets are off here, especially with a knuckleballer tossing. After his surprisingly good 2010, Dickey has been extremely inconsistent in the early going this season.

The Dodgers then travel to Pittsburgh for a four-game set starting on Monday. The Pirates’ starting pitcher in the series opener will be Jeff Karstens, a hurler Ethier has fared well against (3-for-8 with a homer and four RBI). Next up will be Kevin Correia, another former division rival and a pitcher that’s been shockingly good so far for the Buccos. Ethier has abused Correia over the years, spanking him to the tune of a .529 BA (9-for-17 with two doubles, a triple and four walks). It’s safe to say that if the streak is still alive come Tuesday, it has a very good chance of reaching 34 games in this one, notwithstanding Correia’s fine start.

On Wednesday, Paul Maholm will toe the rubber for Pittsburgh, and Ethier has also done well against him (2-for-6 with an RBI and a walk). Thursday’s starter for the Pirates is still unknown, but this is usually Charlie Morton’s turn in the rotation, another Bucco hurler that’s done better than expected so far. Ethier has had one hit (a homer) in three at-bats vs. Morton.

If Ethier can survive these two series, he’ll have a 35-game streak as the Dodgers head back to Los Angeles to begin a seven-game homestand against the Diamondbacks on May 13.

Quick Hits

  • Jason Bartlett knows a thing or two about hitting streaks, having set the Rays’ record with a 19-game run in his breakthrough 2009 season. However, he’s been falling downhill since. Bartlett barely made our top 25 at shortstop this season a year after almost being a top five player at the position. And while his BA continues to plummet this year (.235 currently), at least he’s running again, having swiped five bases after managing just 11 in 2010 (remember that he racked up 30 in his big 2009 campaign). That’s his only saving grace now, meaning Bartlett is only useful in deeper NL-only leagues.
  • In my research about Ethier’s streak, I came across a ton of information about various hitting streaks, some accurate, much of it not. For instance, one writer credited Stan Javier as holding the Athletics’ franchise record with a 21-game hit streak (the first four games of which, the article suggested, were with the Angels before he hit 17 straight game to start the 1994 season). So I did some digging, and found that there have been 19 hitting streaks longer than 21 games in Athletic history. Hey, perhaps the dude just meant the Oakland A’s (remember, they started out in Philly in 1901, moved to KC in 1955 and then headed west in 1968)? Nope, wrong again. Four players have had hit streaks of more than 21 games since the A’s arrived in Oakland (including Jason Giambi, Carney Lansford, Miguel Tejada and Eric Byrnes). In fact, Javier’s supposed streak isn’t even listed among A’s hitting streaks of 18 games or longer. The lesson here, for both of us, really, is not to believe everything you read on the Internet.
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