In the team’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday evening, Ryan Ludwick had his best game of the year as he went 4-for-5 with three doubles. For the first time in two years, the Cincinnati Reds were given a glimpse into the player who led the team in 2012 and warranted a two-year, $15 million deal.
While the Reds would be foolish to expect a resurgence of the player who hit 26 home runs and added 80 RBIs, a successful Ludwick would go a long way for a team looking to make a push into the postseason.
For the Reds, left field has been an albatross for the last two seasons. The loss of Ludwick to injury left them without an established bat to insert into the middle of their lineup. While the downfalls of an entire team’s offense can’t be pointed to one particular player, the loss of a healthy Ludwick made for an inconsistent lineup with players being forced to hit in positions that didn’t necessarily fit them.
With his performance Sunday evening, the Reds have to be
begging hoping that the return of a consistent Ludwick is on the horizon. Having a successful Ludwick in the lineup provides protection to players such as Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Amazingly, such a presence can have reverberating effects on the entire lineup from top to bottom.
It isn’t a coincidence that the Reds have struggled offensively since the loss of Ludwick’s production (especially in addition to the loss of Shin-Soo Choo). After all, the current roster was constructed with the production of Ludwick in mind.
The difference between the Reds becoming buyers or sellers at the trade deadline could largely rest on the production they receive from their left fielders, particularly Ludwick. It is no secret that the Reds must improve their production from the position, and if they can do so without making any external moves, then the team is better off.
While the team has tried improving from within, such attempts have continually failed. They have used Chris Heisey, Donald Lutz, Roger Bernadina and more without success.
With Ludwick currently in the final year of his contract with the Reds, the question remains as to who the team will employ to fill the left field vacancy in 2015. With a replacement obviously not currently on the team, the Reds’ front office must decide if the team is better off adding that piece during the 2014 season or waiting until the offseason. However, the Reds are hoping that a resurgence of Ludwick could buy the team time in 2014.