Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ryan Ludwick

For anyone out there that is reading and wants to know where my affiliations lie (ie "What team does VofL root for?"), I'm a Cardinals fan, which is why my first post was about Mike Matheny.  And now this one, also, will be about Matheny.  I love the guy and know he's a rookie manager and will make mistakes, but some of these just leave me asking "What are you thinking?".  In today's afternoon loss (that is NOT why I'm posting this, but it does add extra motivation) to the Reds, with no one out in the 9th inning he elects to walk Ryan Ludwick intentionally.  I have a copy of Baseball Between The Numbers by Baseball Prospectus with me as I type this and they do a detailed study of why you should (almost) never intentionally walk a batter.  There needs to be huge drop-offs in OBP and/or SLG for it to be worth it and they detail this with a lot of charts and graphs and analysis of Run Expectancies (see my first post for the whole chart).  Ryan Ludwick in his career has a 237/316/435 line versus LHP (and it was Marc Rzepcynski pitching), and the run expectancy jumped with him on base from 1.102 to 1.476.  Not a huge jump, but big enough to almost ensure that the run would be scored.  Jay Bruce followed him and struck out and then the next batter hit a single to win the game.

When Ryan Ludwick was a Cardinal, I loved to watch him hit because it seemed like he was good.  And, indeed, he was.  In his 3 or 4 years with the Cards, he had an 857 OPS.  Now, he's pretty much a shell of his former self.  Or rather, he's returned to Earth.  I'm gonna lose brownie points in Cardinal Nation for this, but Ludwick, besides his years with the Cards, was not a valuable major league hitter. His career OBP is just about league average, and when he was with the Cards he had his one big year in 2008 where it was soaring high above league average.  His slugging was usually pretty good (career 40 points higher than league average), and that was his saving grace.  But if you can't get on base better than league average, that power isn't as useful or valuable.  Advanced stats back that up.  His BtRuns (a measure of how many runs above or below league average you provide based on linear weights) for his career is 36.6.  His career year of 2008 was 39.9, so beyond that year he has cost his team more runs than he provided.  And his career OPS+ is only 110 (which, just throwing it out there, is higher than Jack Morris' career ERA+ and people clamor for him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame--can't wait to get those articles this winter!) He shouldn't ever be walked intentionally.

Hopefully, with the Cardinals off tomorrow I can find someone else to blog about besides Mike Matheny.  Like I said, I love the guy, but this was just a nutty thing to do.

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