With the recent addition of Ryan Ludwick to the Reds roster, there are some that believe Ludwick could see a partial return to his form of 2008 (37 HR, 113 RBI, slash line of .299/.375/.591). There are logical explanations for his decline: some good, some bad. We’ll cover those in a bit.
Regardless of that, Ludwick might greatly benefit from hitter-friendly GABP. I doubt there are those that would think vastly different. A note that we must keep in mind here. The Bill James projections as posted on Ludwick’s Fangraphs player page were not evolved from having that benefit.
So, with that in mind, here’s a look at what we might see from Ludwick in 2012.
Stats and projections
If there is an added to bonus to signing Ludwick, it is that his arm is pretty darn good. Despite suffering from offensive regression, Ludwick has not let it affect his defensive contribution. He tallied 10 assists, 9 of which while he manned left field, his position (most likely considering the guys in center and right) as a Red. Having three guys that can kill a rally with an assist can play headgames with opponents.
I know this goes a bit with the arm, but Ludwick, while not exactly the fleetest of foot, can play in the field. Over the past four seasons, Ludwick has rated in the top five in fielding percentage. While we know that doesn’t tell the whole story, it is worth noting. If Ludwick can get the ball, rest assured he will come up with it.
3. Power bat in middle of lineup?
This may be the biggest reason for Ludwick’s signing. Walt Jocketty wanted a power bat from the right-handed side and he deemed Ludwick as a solution. I affixed the question mark for one reason: playing time. It’s hopeful that the power stroke will return and Ludwick could eleviate the pressures on Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
Yes, I’m sure we will hear the bit about Dusty playing veterans over younger guys. This is one such case. Now that I think about it, Chris Heisey will greatly determine that. Well, Heisey should anyway.
1. Decrease in offensive production
No question that Ludwick has experienced drops across the board. Playing a season and a half at Petco might do that. Playing a half a season at PNC could as well. We would logically deduce that there would be some drop, but maybe not to the extent Ludwick has experienced.
2. Decrease in power
This is not completely related to the Petco/PNC point, and I realize this is a contradiction of one of the positives. In Ludwick’s last full season as a Cardinal (2009), he did see his home run per flyball rate (HR/FB) drop…significantly. Here’s the look…
2010 should not be a big surprise as Ludwick split time between St. Louis and San Diego. Again, a slight decrease should be expected. The severe drop from 2010 and 2011 should set off an alarm or two.
New surroundings should make for better power numbers. If Ludwick can rediscover that swing, he could find himself seeing more playing time. That might present a conundrum for skipper Dusty Baker. If Ludwick struggles while seeing more time than the popular Chris Heisey, well, we know how those on Twitter can rant. The James projection shows 122 games in which Ludwick will play. If he produces the same line as James shows (15 HR, 62 RBI, slash of .249/.325/.426), a mutiny from the fanbase will ensue as I also believe the Reds would see the similar, if not better, production from Heisey.
I do believe, if given the opportunity, Ludwick can exceed the projections. It’s a matter of that one word: opportunity.