Ryan Ludwick. That name didn't resonate with many St. Louisans last year. But in 2008, even the 80-year-old cashier at Old Navy knows his name. After an above-average start, Ludwick has really turned on the jets as of late, to the tune of 13 HRs and 38 RBI through 52 games.
Ludwick has been the best hitting-outfielder in the NL this year. His overall statistics trail just Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones and Houston Astros' first baseman Lance Berkman. Ludwick is in the top seven in the NL in hitting, on-base percentage, slugging, RBI, extra-base hits, and home runs.
That is unreal. This guy deserves some serious All-Star consideration, folks. Ludwick, 29, has become a mainstay in the Cardinals lineup as their cleanup hitter. That is a pretty nice spot to find yourself in, especially with Albert Pujols' propensity to be on base. To be honest, only Nate McLouth can make a run at Ludwick as the most improved outfielder in the NL.
I really hope, not only for Ludwick's good, but for McLouth as well, that fans will respect the seasons that these two underrated players are having, rather than voting for their favorite big-name superstar.
Although Ludwick will almost assuredly make the NL team as a reserve, not a starter, despite his numbers, he still deserves to step onto the grass the night of July 15th at Yankee Stadium.
Superstars such as Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano will probably start in the outfield over Ludwick, but just getting there would do it for Ryan.
He knows he is a newcomer to the majors, and in several interviews, he has admitted he doesn't know why he has had such a good start to the season. One thing, however, is sure: Cardinal Nation certainly appreciates his efforts. And for those efforts, he should be an All-Star.