One of the raging debates in LA until he went on the shelf with knee surgery, was whether or not hitting in front of Manny Ramirez led to an offensive surge for Jeff Kent. Kent was adamant that it made no difference, even going so far as to insult Vin Scully in the process. Anyway, if Kent’s unwillingly to say Manny made a difference in his success, Andre Ethier — one of the hottest Dodger hitters — freely admitted in a post-game interview on FSN that hitting in front of Manny has made a tremendous difference for him:
It helps when you have Manny hitting behind you — you get a lot of pitches to hit. And I gotta give a lot of credit to him; every time I got a hit, it seemed like they were walking him right after me. It’s obvious that they’re pitching around him and giving me good pitches to hit. When you’re behind in the count, they don’t want to put you on base and have [Manny] come up and get a big hit, so it puts more pressure on them to throw strikes a little more over the plate.
Ethier finished 5-for-5 Friday night, and really should have had a cycle if he were more confident on the bases trying to stretch a double into a triple. Back to Kent though, Jeff was hitting the ball well all year (even before Manny arrived), but he wasn’t having luck with his hard-hit balls falling. I think the percentages finally began to fall in his favor, and it coincided with the acquisition of Manny, and that’s why the number changes appeared so dramatic. Don’t get me wrong however; having Manny as protection never hurts!Google+