Ryan Ludwick made his return from the DL on August 12th in a road game against the Chicago Cubs. He unceremoniously went 0-3 in his return, and as a matter of fact didn’t get a hit until his fifth game back, a road game at Milwaukee, when he singled twice.
Ludwick’s return from a severe shoulder separation injury that occurred on opening day and subsequent surgery had long been anticipated by the Reds organization and their faithful fans. In addition, the players needed his presence in the clubhouse where he is a known positive influence on young and veteran players.
The impact of Ryan Ludwick’s return has had finally became evident on August 28th. That game, Reds Manager Dusty Baker showed enough confidence in the left fielder to move him up from sixth to fifth position in the batting order behind Jay Bruce who was moved to bat clean-up that night behind Joey Votto. Baker has never seemed too comfortable in having left-handed bats hit next to each other in his lineups, but on this night it clicked. The Reds were victorious in putting up ten runs against the home team Cardinals, and even more glaringly, nine of those runs…all earned, were scored against the Cards’ ace Adam Wainwright. Beginning that evening, Ludwick has either batted fifth or clean-up every time he has been in Dusty’s starting lineup, and his batting average has been .333, with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs.
By moving Ludwick up in the order that night in St. Louis, it allowed (or maybe forced) Dusty Baker to move Brandon Phillips to his natural spot in the lineup…number two. Since he was moved up in the order, Phillips’ slash line has been .324/.395/.647, including two doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight runs scored and six RBIs.
A bigger beneficiary has been Shin-Soo Choo. By moving Ludwick and Phillips, Choo’s numbers have been .424/.537/.788 with two doubles, three home runs and nine runs scored. Compared to his season line of .287/.420/.470, he obviously likes having Phillips hitting behind him.
Unfortunately, Votto has not seemed to benefit from the lineup shifts, but rather has seen his numbers slowly on the decline since the All-Star break (and is currently going through a horrible slump), but we can assume that the changes will have a positive effect at some point…we hope.
Most importantly of all, the team’s winning percentage in the past ten days starting with that game against the Cardinals on the 28th of August is .5833 (5-3) going into this weekend’s series with the Dodgers. By having confidence enough to finally move Ludwick up in the lineup and get Phillips back toward the top where he belongs, the Reds can make their move on division leader Pittsburgh and creep up on the Cardinals. The Ludwick effect will make this last month of the season a lot more interesting, that’s for sure.