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Andre Ethier Making a Bid at Immortality

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As Andre Ethier stands on the precipice of a 30-game hitting streak, the question of whether or not he can eclipse Joe DiMaggio’s 56 gamer is on the minds of many baseball fans.  Do I think that he will? Not really, but using Francisco Liriano as proof, with baseball anything is possible.

Francisco Liriano, he of the 9.13 ERA and probable demotion from the starting rotation went out and promptly threw a no-hitter. He still can’t find the plate with a map (only 66 out of 123 pitches for strikes), but he was able to overcome 6 walks and fire the 227th no-hitter of the modern era. Liriano’s raw stuff has never been questioned, but if you would’ve told me that he, a man with no career complete games and in the worst pitching slump of his life, was going to throw a no-hitter last night, you could’ve named your odds and I would’ve taken the bet…but that’s baseball… and that’s why Ethier has chance at glory.

True enough that having the longest hitting streak in history doesn’t mean a whole lot. After all, you could have a 162 game hitting streak and still bat .230… but that’s not the point. The point is that aside from its relatively minor meaning to the final outcome of any given game, hitting streaks are cool. They are cool in the way that hook shots and penalty shots are cool. As a self-described stats guy, cool isn’t something that generally bounces around in my highly over-analytical brain, but I for one am rooting for Ethier.

Since DiMaggio’s 56 game streak, which easy could’ve been 73 had the Indians Ken Keltner not robbed him twice on July 17, 1941 (he began a 16 game hit streak right after the 56 gamer ended), no one has really even come remotely close to challenging the record. There have been 53 players with streaks of 30 games or more, only 6 with 40 games or more, with only two of those coming within the past 78 years… one of which was DiMaggio, the other, Pete Rose, who’s 44 isn’t even in the ballpark of Joltin’ Joe. The facts don’t bode well for Ethier, but with baseball you can throw the facts out and watch greatness unfold when you least expect it.

Ethier is 7/16 (.438) career off of today’s starter Carlos Zambrano, so the odds of him joining the 30 game club looked promising, but he was scratched with elbow inflammation. Assuming he gets to 30, he would need to hit safely in the next 27 games to break the record. Assuming no more off-days, he would accomplish the feat in early June in Cincinnati.

Can he do it? Sure. Will he do it? Highly doubtful, but the schedule actually offers the possibility of it happening. or at least making a run at it.

Here are the teams that he will face over the next 29 games:

Mets (3)

Pirates (4)

Diamondbacks (3)

Brewers (2)

Giants (2)

White Sox (3)

Astros (3)

Marlins (3)

Rockies (3)

Reds (3)

The best pitcher he will face over the next 8 games is the Mets’ Chris Young and Ethier is 12/29 (.414) off him in his career. Assuming he makes it through the Mets series, he will should easily get to 40 against the Pirates and Diamondbacks. I’m fairly certain that 85% of you reading this could get a hit a game vs. the Pirates and D’backs… unless cult-hero Charlie Morton is on the mound, then all bets are off. If he does manage to get to 40, he will join Joe DiMaggio (56), “Wee Willie” Keeler (45), Pete Rose (44), “Bad Bill” Dahlen (42), George Sisler (41), and Ty Cobb (40) as the only men to do so. The most recent chase at greatness was Jimmy Rollins who put together a 38 game streak over the 2005 & 2006 seasons

After that things would get tougher for Ethier both in quality of pitcher and amount of pressure felt. But as they say, you defeat something bigger than you are by showing up every day. So, if you aren’t paying attention, I’d say you should start, if only to hear the dulcet tones of Vin Scully, baseball’s last of the old guard announcers… a true treat.


One Response to “Andre Ethier Making a Bid at Immortality”

  1. “As Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 29 games last night with a dying quail just over the awkward leap of Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney…”

    I’m not even sure “AWKWARD” can describe that leap. Duncan’s “slide” home the other day was awkward. This leep was downright silly. Did he think he could get to that ball? And at what point did he realize it was over his head, as he left the ground? Very strange indeed. But, I’m glad you saw it, because I was throwed at such a site : )

    Posted by Bobby Digital | May 7, 2011, 1:16 pm

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