Walt Jocketty has made pitching the team’s focal point this offseason and I think everyone would agree that it needed to be. Still, there was one hole remaining on offense. When we talk Reds offense, we know we’re talking about a prolific lineup that can put up runs (7th in scoring in ’11). But strikeouts and the inability to move runners over always seemed to plague a Reds team that only had a team BA of .256 and struck out a total of 1,250 times, which is good for baseball’s 7th best team strikeouts. That’s why I was hoping for a nice hitter off the bench, someone who makes a ton of contact, someone who extends innings.
The Reds will more than likely announce a one year dear with options for OF Ryan Ludwick today. For the first time this offseason, I feel like the Reds missed the boat on filling a gap. We all know what Ryan Ludwick brings to the clubhouse: career .261 BA, .332 OBP. 117 dingers. But does it bother anyone that he hit .237 last year?
Maybe you want more than just one year’s worth of evidence. I took a look at Ryan Ludwick’s stats splits for the past three years. In the past three years at GABP, Ryan Ludwick is batting .191. In three years and 440 ABs as a LF, Ryan hit .239. In three years, Ludwick has hit .241 v lefties and .255 v righties.
For as many fastball-annihilators the Reds already employ, I was shocked to see that they added another one. Ludwick bats an astounding .288 v. fastballs (.293 when thrown by a right-hander). But against the curve? .162. Against the change-up? .190. To me, this guy just fits the mold of a powerful, home run hitting OF that struggles to facilitate rallies with base hits and by moving runners. That’s why I was hoping for Juan Pierre.
Juan Pierre would have been a perfect fit for the 2012 Reds. OF veteran who hit .279 last year. Consider Pierre’s numbers for the past three years compared to Ludwick’s. In three years, Pierre has batted .284 and has maintained an OBP of .342. This lefty has batted .317 v left-handed pitchers since 2009. By the way, in that same span, he’s batted .400 at Great American Ballpark.
Talk about a possible lead-off guy. Juan Pierre, since 2009, is batting .282. This guy is a hitting freak; he boasts a career BA of .296 and has never hit lower than .275 in any season– and he’s been around since people were signing into AOL with a 56k modem.
Reds landed Ryan Ludwick for $2.5 mil. Juan Pierre, who could even retire this season, I imagine would have cost a little more. There’s every bit of truth that his defense has diminished and his speed has slowed considerably. It’s worth noting that he was tied for the major league lead in errors by a left fielder, with 7 in ’11. That year, Pierre led the major leagues in sacrifice hits with 19, was caught stealing a major-league-leading 17 times and stole 27 bases. But I don’t think he needed to be a big time base-stealer for the Reds.
The Reds lacked clutch base-hitting last year (Reds ranked 25th in hitting with RISP and two outs in ’11). Since 2009, Juan Pierre is batting .291 in that situation. I thought he’d be a welcomed addition, but Jocketty does seems to have a knack for bringing in once successful Cardinals and making them useful.