In the 2012 NLDS, Buster Posey, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, Brandon Crawford and others emerged as heroes. And, hidden in all of that was a great performance from Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick.
Ludwick took Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain deep while hitting .333 in the NLDS. He homered in 16.7 percent of his at-bats in the series. He walked four times, too, posting a .455 on-base percentage. His OPS was 1.288, which is almost unheard of.
Oh, and he wasn’t horrible in the regular season. He drove in 80 runs and hit 26 homers in just 422 at-bats, posting a .275 batting average and .346 OBP. He homered in over six percent of his at-bats, and he has wreaked havoc on San Francisco while playing with the Padres, Pirates and Reds.
He isn’t known for his defense, but he made multiple great catches in the NLDS, notably in Game 1 at AT&T Park (a tough place to play for all outfielders). He has come up with multiple clutch hits for the Reds, serving as a huge steal for them.
And now, he can be a huge steal for another team.
Ludwick’s performance will probably go unnoticed, because of some other outfielders. Josh Hamilton will get some big money, Angel Pagan’s playoff performance will net him some money, and Nick Swisher will be offered a huge contract. No one took notice of his playoff success, so he will come at a cheap price.
He is 34, so a multi-year deal is unlikely. However, Cincinnati took a chance and gave him a one year deal, one that definitely paid off. If Ludwick does get a one-year deal, he can be traded or sign an extension during the season, with his power, run-producing ability and concealed defensive skills helping his new team.
Josh Hamilton has the ability to tear up any pitcher at any time, but at other times, he can totally lose his touch. Pagan broke out, but the Giants will probably bring him back. Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher will command a lot of money, while I’d estimate that Ludwick would command around 7 million.
For 26 homers in 422 at-bats with underrated defense, that’s definitely a bargain.
I didn’t watch much Reds baseball, but every time I watched a Reds game or saw a Reds highlight, I felt like I always saw Ludwick coming through with a huge hit to help his team, something he has done for many teams over the years. His experience will be valuable to a lot of teams, especially young teams.
Cincinnati saw what he did and how he broke up their left-handed duo of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce with some right-handed power. They are going to throw millions at him to try to bring him back, but his deal will be no longer than two years. Ludwick knows he’s not going to get a long-term contract, so a team with a void in the outfield could probably bring him in with 8 or 9 million every year.
And, with Ludwick’s power, experience and talent, that’s definitely a bargain.