We really are coming down to it now and, correspondingly, we’re getting to the positions that make my (and probably your) head hurt. Today’s monster is left field, which will be manned primarily by Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey with perhaps a smattering of Todd Frazier. I don’t want to type the next sentence, but I’m going to have to. I think Ryan Ludwick probably gets the most playing time.

Heisey will play, but he’ll also be the floating outfielder spelling Stubbs and Bruce when they need a day off. Even if he weren’t, though, I’d bet on Ludwick getting significantly more than half of the at bats. Especially because Heisey has such pretty pinch hitting stats.

I do not like Ryan Ludwick.

Oh, as a person, I’m sure he’s nice enough, but as a baseball player, he isn’t very good anymore. In fact, we can reasonably call him below average, even if he is still a bit better than replacement level. I get that the Reds had to sign another outfielder for depth. I really do understand that, I just wish I believed they would be smart enough not to play him most days.

Everyone in the organization wants to claim San Diego killed him, but no park is that tough to hit in and frankly, he’s only had one season with the bat than can be considered good for a corner outfielder.

Heisey isn’t great either, but he’s not terrible. I think we’ve mentioned this on the site before, but his weirdo platoon splits probably aren’t sticking around (small sample size, etc., etc.), which means he should hit a bit better this year. He was already a better hitter than Ludwick last year and he’s entering his prime years, while Ludwick has passed them.

I should note here that all of the projection systems more or less agree with this assessment. Correspondingly, I think left is probably the weakest position for the Reds.

I’m trying not to be too pessimistic, but I really believe Heisey would be a totally average player if they’d just let him go for a year. Instead, we’re going to get a two headed monster, where one head is really monstrous. My guess on playing time is about 60/40 favoring Ludwick and the numbers below are correspondingly pro-rated as best I can figure.

One more word before I get to the projections: Inexplicably, the Reds were not terrible in left last year. They weren’t good, mind you, but it wasn’t like shortstop. There were a lot of guys out there, though and I’ve had to best-guess the total WAR for the position accounting for pinch hitting appearances and, for Heisey, starts in other positions. So these numbers are a little extra fungible.

The alarming thing about all of this is that it’s conceivable that the Reds could be worse in left this year. If Ludwick fails, I just hope they don’t stick with him too long. To the numbers…

2012 Heisey slash line: .260/.320/.450 (300 ABs)
2012 Ludwick slash line: .250/.315/.400 (450 ABs)

2011 Left Field WAR: 2.6 (approx.)

2012 Best Guess WAR: 2.0

Projected Difference: -0.6

2012 Floor WAR: 1.0

2012 Ceiling WAR: 3.5

First Base
Second Base
Right Field
Center Field
Starting Pitching – Front End of the Rotation
Starting Pitching – Back End of the Rotation
Left Field
Third Base
Season Preview Wrap-Up