We’ve already looked at some players who are being drafted too early for our taste.
Now it’s time to go in the opposite direction and examine some players who are being drafted too late.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. Ryan Ludwick.
Although not a top-tier outfielder, Ludwick is deserving of more respect than the fantasy community has shown him thus far. According to ESPN, his ADP, or average draft position, is 154.9, which puts him as being the 43rd outfielder taken.
If you’re in a 10-team league with three starting outfield spots, Ludwick is considered a fifth outfielder. In a 12 team-league, he’s considered a low-end fourth outfielder. I don’t know about you, but I’m doing fits of joy if I have four better outfielders than Ludwick.
Let’s not forget that in 2008 Ludwick slugged 37 home runs and drove in 113 runs. He also scored 104 runs and batted .299. To put that in perspective, Ryan Braun hit 37 home runs and drove in 106 runs in 2008. Braun also scored fewer runs (92) and had a lower batting average (.285) than Ludwick.
Flash forward (good show, by the way) to 2010, and Braun is unanimously regarded as the best outfielder.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying Braun and Ludwick belong in the same class. I’m just saying there are not 42 outfielders between them.
I understand the reservations you may have with Ludwick. He regressed last year, hitting only 22 HR with 97 RBI. He also batted .265 and scored only 63 runs. While those stats warrant his ADP, I’m fairly certain he will be able to eclipse those numbers.
His numbers were down last year due to injury. Ludwick missed time in May and June with a hamstring injury, which caused him to log only 486 at-bats. In April, before the injury, Ludwick hit .297 with five HR and 19 RBI. From July to September, after recovering from the injury, Ludwick hit .290 with 54 RBI.
There are more encouraging signs that lead me to believe that Ludwick will outperform his ADP. One is the improved plate discipline he showed last year. In 2008, Ludwick struck out 27.1 percent of the time. Last year, he struck out only 21.8 percent of the time.
Ludwick will also bat fifth for the Cardinals, behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, which should give him ample RBI opportunities. It also can’t hurt that Mark McGwire will be his new hitting coach this year.
While Ludwick’s .299 batting average in 2008 can be attributed to a high BABIP, his low batting average last year can be attributed to a low BABIP of .296. The truth is he’s probably a .275-.280 hitter that will hit 30 home runs and knock in over 100 runs.
Players with more question marks who offer similar skill sets to Ludwick, such as Josh Hamilton and Carlos Quentin, are going 50 picks ahead of him. Even the brittle Alfonso Soriano, who has less power and doesn’t steal bases anymore, is going 25 picks ahead of Ludwick.
I already liked Ryan Ludwick. But his 2010 ADP is making me like him even more.
For the original article, check out Baseball Professor .