Can Ludwick keep this up?

by on May 21, 2008 · 1 comment

Derrick Goold had a great write-up on Ryan Ludwick’s season-to-date (as well as stats going back to September 2007) over at his Bird Land blog today.

The numbers Luddy has put up so far this season are really staggering when put in context with some of the other great hitters off to great starts this year, like Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones.

A short synopsis to give you the idea:

The top 10, since Sept. 6, ranked by slugging, all .599 or better (leader in italics; GS — Games Started):

1. Lance Berkman, HOU … .714 SLG … 245 AB … 22 HR … 57 RBI … 66 GS … .355 BA

2. Chipper Jones, ATL … .682 SLG … 233 AB … 17 HR … 53 RBI … 61 GS … .403 BA

3. Ryan Ludwick, STL … .658 SLG … 202 AB … 15 HR … 46 RBI … 46 GS … .337 BA

4. A. Soriano, CHC … .644 SLG … 236 AB … 23 HR … 51 RBI … 55 GS … .288 BA

5. Matt Holliday, COL … .638 SLG … 257 AB … 17 HR … 49 RBI … 65 GS … .339 BA

6. Geovany Soto, CHC … .637 SLG … 193 AB … 12 HR … 39 RBI … 50 GS … .337 BA

7. Albert Pujols, STL … .630 SLG … 243 AB … 13 HR … 50 RBI … 66 GS … .370 BA

8. David Ortiz, BOS … .612 SLG … 250 AB … 19 HR … 60 RBI … 64 GS … .304 BA

9. J. Hamilton, CN/TX … .605 SLG … 200 AB … 12 HR … 53 RBI … 48 GS … .325 BA

10. Nate McLouth, PIT … .599 SLG … 222 AB … 14 HR … 45 RBI … 55 GS … .316 BA

Fascinating company there really. So is Ludwick for real? Can he continue this torrid pace, if he continues to start as a regular for the Cardinals?

I have maintained a concern throughout the start to this season that Ludwick is swinging at too many first pitches. A cursory glance at Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index system indicates that so far this year, Ludwick is a GREAT first pitch hitter:

   G    PA    AB   H    HR  RBI   BB  BA    OBP   SLG    OPS
   16   19    19   10   5   11    0   .526  .526  1.526  2.053

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Look at his numbers when he doesn’t get the ball in-play and faces an 0-1:

After 0-1
   G    PA    AB   H    HR  RBI   BB  BA    OBP   SLG    OPS
   35   62    57   13   2   7     4   .228  .274  .456   .730

Now thankfully his numbers (as one might expect), go up if he can coax a ball on 0-1. But it seems if he’s not putting good wood on the first pitches, he digs himself a huge hole.

I suspect that with a good number of his at-bats being in the pinch hitter role, and him being very successful in that role to boot, that he is still trying to shake that mentality that “he better be ready to hit” when he steps in the box. Hopefully Hal McRae (*shudder*) can ease him into his role as an everyday player.

Goold’s analysis seems to back up that Luddy can continue to be very productive. I don’t think we can expect such a high level of output from him to continue on a upward or even linear pace – but I certainly think Ludwick is worth a starting spot on this team every night.

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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