When Reds' General Manager Walt Jocketty inked his St. Louis boy Ryan Ludwick back in February, it was assumed Chris Heisey would see most of the action in left field—unless Walt's heyday guy, Ludwick, produced numbers circa 2008. He has not. And he will not.
With Ludwick, you know what you've got; you've got a Ryan Ludwick. And that doesn't make for good pillow talk.
He's been in the bigs for 10 years. His only good seasons were 2007-2010—while playing for Tony LaRussa as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Love him or hate him, LaRussa could light a fire under a player's derrière.
In his approximately 3.5 years as a member of LaRussa's Cardinals, Ludwick batted .280 with 84 home runs. During the rest of his 10-year career, he has hit .228 with a mere 36 home runs.
The correlation is obvious: LaRussa made Ludwick a better ballplayer. LaRussa did that to a heck of a lot of no-names.
And it is impossible to look at a six-plus-year career .228 hitter with 36 home runs as anything but a no-name. Maybe if a guy is a super slick-fielding shortstop...but a corner outfielder? No way.
Ludwick's best season outside a Cardinal uniform came last year, where he posted a .237/.310/.363 slash line. He hit 13 home runs and drove in 75—all while striking out a whopping 124 times in 490 at-bats with the Padres and the Pirates.
So far this season, he's hitting .184, with three home runs and 25 strikeouts in 76 at-bats. For those who can't do quick head math, that is almost exactly one out of every three at-bats. That's a pace to make Drew Stubbs' mama proud.
Who should the Reds start in left field?
Enter Chris Heisey. Right off, so far this season, his numbers haven't been anything to write Susanna Hoffs another letter. Unlike Ludwick, the Reds do not know what they have as far as an everyday left fielder in Heisey. Last year—his second major-league season—he hit 18 home runs in limited action.
It took Ludwick six seasons to hit 18 bombs.
Anyone who saw the May 14 game vs. the Braves got a glimpse of something that will not come off the bat of Ludwick. In the second inning, Heisey nearly legged out a bunt single. The ball beat him to first, but it did move Jay Bruce to third.
In the fourth inning, Heisey drilled a solid single up the middle. In the seventh, he led off the inning with a screamer double into the left field corner and in the eighth, a 7-8 gapper double that easily drove in Brandon Phillips and gave the Reds a comfy 3-1 lead.
Ludwick's tortoise-like speed is nothing compared to the above-average speed of Heisey; both are a tick above average in left field. It just makes no sense to keep playing Ludwick. He and Heisey have an almost identical number of at-bats: Ludwick with 76; Heisey with 73.
Heisey, now in his third season, has never been given a shot at starting on an everyday basis. There is no way he can be worse than Ludwick...doesn't matter who he's facing.
Dusty Baker needs to tell Chris Heisey and all Reds fans that he has committed himself and the team to Heisey as the Reds' everyday left fielder.