COMMENTARY | There are three Los Angeles Dodgers currently employed by the club that have made the National League All-Star squad as members of the Blue Crew. All three have dealt with a combination of injury and ineffectiveness in 2013, and it's one of the primary reasons the club sits in last place in the NL West at 28-37, 8.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Matt Kemp made the All-Star team in 2011 and 2012, but 2013 has been nothing but bad luck and disappointment. Kemp entered the year coming off shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and has yet to bounce back to the offensive dynamo he was throughout his all-time great 2011 and amazing April in 2012.
Hamstring and shoulder injuries following the first month of last season have served to render The Bison largely ineffective. His swing mechanics have eroded this season and his plus baserunning has been hampered by multiple hamstring woes.
Kemp has taken much flack from fans and media members, as I discussed recently, but the team is largely to blame for allowing him to play hurt late last season and exacerbate the serious injury he suffered. How long it takes Kemp to regain his previous form, even if it's a less powerful form, remains to be seen, but I fully expect a bounce-back with the lumber from the two-time All-Star.
Andre Ethier was an All-Star in 2010 and 2011 and though he has long struggled against southpaws and been a liability in right field, he could be counted on to mash right-handed pitching and make strong throws.
The 2013 season has revealed a whole new Ethier and it's one that has left Dodgers fans less than impressed. Ethier's line of .235/.320/.362/.682 with an atrocious .294 wOBA is a far cry from his career line. He's uncharacteristically struggled against righties, hitting just .237/.346/.374/.720. He did deal with a foot issue for a spell, but it was reportedly nothing serious.
It's been a strange year for Dre, as he's walking more and striking out less. A very low BABIP -- batting average on balls in play (.268 in 2013, .321 career) -- is certainly partially to blame, but Andre is also making less hard contact. He's hitting more infield popups and less line drives, a contributing factor to his putrid start at the dish.
Chad Billingsley injured his elbow in 2012 and rather than have Tommy John surgery decided to go the route of rest and plasma injections. Bills, an All-Star in 2009, made just two starts in 2013 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery and seeing his campaign end.
He was off and on the disabled list this year and his strikeout rate had fallen precipitously. He'll miss a good portion of 2014 as well and even if the elbow had allowed him to pitch this season, it would have been as a shell of his former self.
This season has been a lost one in many ways for the Dodgers, particularly their three All-Stars. Injuries to just about every major player on the team have played a huge part in their terrible start. Many of them chose to play hurt -- which rarely benefits the team or player, as I wrote about a week ago -- and that certainly has contributed to the slow start.
The struggles of Ethier combined with Kemp's hamstring issues and his slow return from his severe shoulder problem have bogged down the Dodgers in what was supposed to be a "Whole New Blue" in 2013.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle, a Dodgers' and sports card blog. He writes with an analytical tilt about The Blue Crew at ChadMoriyama.com. You can find and follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke. A graduate of UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor's in History, he's been a follower of the Dodgers since birth and still mourns the loss of both Mike Piazza and Carlos Santana.
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- Andre Ethier