Ryan Ludwick
2012 Slash Line: .275/.346/.531
2013 Projection: .270/.335/.460

2012 WAR: 2.8
2013 Best Guess WAR: 2.0
Projected Difference: -0.8
2013 Floor: 0.0
2013 Ceiling: 4.0

I am not especially worried about Ryan Ludwick.

There, I said it. What, you are probably wondering, is the cause of my comfort? Especially when I was vocally opposed to the initial acquisition of the Ludster? When I predicted (last year, even!) that he was done? It’s simple, I found some very interesting numbers.

Ludwick, we all know, is a dead pull hitter. He makes his money crushing the ball to left field. We also know that, reportedly, playing in San Diego messed him all up. How much do we believe that? I didn’t, at first, but I do now. The key is to ignore his left field numbers.

When he was in San Diego, he crushed the ball to left. Crushed it. Just like you would expect. However, Ryan Ludwick does also do well when he hits the ball to center. He does terribly when hitting to the opposite field, but he still provides some value there. Both of those numbers dropped off considerably when he was in San Diego. Ludwick’s career average to right field is .223. Last year, with the Reds, it was .231. Totally normal variation. In 2011, when he was mostly with the Padres it was .139. That’s as far removed from his norm as his norm is from Tony Gwynn.

Then consider his batting average on balls in play:
Career: .304
Last year: .299
2010 in Petco: .235
2011 in Petco: .245

There are two possibilities: 1. Ryan Ludwick happened to be really unlucky in his primary home park for two years (bad luck that, incidentally, vanished the moment he was traded to the Pirates). 2. Petco really screwed up Ryan Ludwick.

Regardless of what you think the right answer is, we have to heavily discount Ludwick’s San Diego numbers. Do that, and is amazingly consistent. Save his career year in 2008, he can be relied on for 2-3 wins. And post numbers that look a lot like my projections.

That is why I am not worried about Ryan Ludwick. He isn’t a world beater, and I don’t fully believe in last year’s power numbers, but, if I’m being honest, it’s possible that GABP is Ludwick’s anti-Petco. If that’s the case, we could find ourselves surprised at how much value he generates, and he could make my projections look too conservative. A collapse is certainly possible, especially given his age, but odds are, he’ll be a solid contributor to the Reds in 2013.

Redleg Nation Season Preview Schedule

Joey Votto – 2/27
Brandon Phillips – 3/1
Todd Frazier – 3/4
Zack Cozart – 3/6
Ryan Ludwick – 3/8
Shin-Soo Choo – 3/11
Jay Bruce – 3/13
Ryan Hanigan & Catcher #2 – 3/15
Bench – 3/18
Johnny Cueto & Mat Latos – 3/20
Aroldis Chapman & Mike Leake – 3/22
Homer Bailey & Bronson Arroyo – 3/25
Bullpen – 3/27
Updates & Preview Wrap-Up – 3/29