Where would the Reds be without Ryan Ludwick this season. He has carried more than his fair share of the load since Joey Votto went on the disabled list and is the clear favorite to win NL Comeback Player of the Year. Signed by the team as a free agent in late January, Ludwick has proved to be worth every bit of his $2.5 million salary this year...and then some.
Ben Lindbergh of ESPN Insider and Baseball Prospectus recently recognized Ludwick for his good play in this post entitled "Veterans driving the races". He features the 34-year old as one of five veterans who are making an impact for playoff contending clubs. Here's all of what he had to say about Ludwick:
What he's done: The Reds are 65-38 since their .500 April and 25-10 since losing Joey Votto to knee surgery in mid-July. No player has been more responsible for that run than Ludwick. He was a below-average batter with the San Diego Padres in the past two seasons, even after adjusting for Petco Park's pitcher friendliness, and when he hit .207/.289/.405 through June 6 this season, Reds fans called for his playing time to be curtailed. Then he got hot. Ludwick's .340 TAv since the start of June ranks seventh among hitters with at least 200 plate appearances, and his .356 TAv since the start of July ranks third (minimum 150 PA), behind only Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols.
How he's done it: Ludwick hit much better before and after his stint with San Diego, so it's possible that Petco hurt him even more than the average hitter. Great American Ball Park, however, is a haven for right-handed hitters and the perfect place to restore his power. This is also the first season Ludwick has avoided the disabled list since his career year of 2008.
Can he keep doing it: Ludwick can't keep producing like a perennial MVP candidate, so some regression is in store, but little about his line looks fluky. Any decline in his production should be more than offset for Cincinnati by Votto's impending return.
Simply put, a productive Ludwick greatly increases the chances of a deep postseason run for the Redlegs. Here's to hoping he will continue to rake at a career-setting pace.