Some players in Major League Baseball do not mind getting shipped around from place to place. When I say they don’t mind I mean that it does not seem to affect their numbers to get moved around. Ryan Ludwick doesn’t seem to be one of those players. He found a home playing full-time for the Cincinnati Reds in 2012 and looks to play a full slot of games for the defending National League Central champs again this season.
For Ludwick the difference is easy to see. He played a few seasons consecutively for the St. Louis Cardinals and the middle season was good enough for him to get a few MVP votes at the end of the year. Then he went through a couple of seasons where he was traded around and his numbers faltered clearly. Suddenly, when he was locked in for a full season in 2012 the numbers shot back up. Since he is secure in his spot again as the clean-up batter in the 2013 batting order, I would expect good things from him this season.
Dusty Baker trusts that Ludwick will have a good season. You can tell by looking at who is batting before him in the line-up. That would be Joey Votto. If you have a superstar caliber player like Votto, the only thing more important than where you place him in your batting order is who you put behind him as support. Ludwick will get plenty of chances to prove that opposing pitchers do not want to walk Votto to get to him.
I think all of this will combine for a year every bit as good as his career year with the Cardinals some seasons ago. It might seem late for a career year but I don’t believe that for Ludwick. Look for him to have a great season as he holds the key to this line-up and knows what to do with it. He will protect Votto who will then have a great year because of it. Everything else will spill out from there.