MLB Free Agents 2012: Ryan Ludwick and More Cheap Bats Teams Must Look at
The big names on the free-agent market are obvious. We have Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes leading the market, while names like Carlos Beltran and even Grady Sizemore are also catching a lot of attention.
But not every team can sign guys like that. Not every team needs to sign a guy like that. No, in some cases, a smaller, cheaper name can make a huge difference. They add depth to lineups, and the significance of that can't be overstated.
So, let's look at a couple of names that aren't headline grabbers, but are guys that you should want your favorite team to sign.
Ludwick comes with something of an asterisk, right? After all, he's proven that his power doesn't extend to pitcher's parks, correct?
Well, let's look at things just a little deeper, shall we?
Between 2010 and 2011, Ludwick played 160 games for the San Diego Padres. Not only do they play in a pitcher's park, but also play many games in San Francisco and Los Angeles, which also both benefit the pitcher.
In those games, he hit 17 homers and 56 RBI. When you consider the stadiums he was playing a lot of games in, those are respectable totals. He also did those in a lineup with very little help.
Being on a team in a hitter's park and having better players around can would mean bigger production from Ludwick. In that spot, this is a guy that can easily hit 25 home runs and drive in 75 or more.
That's not something to ignore.
Pena's average has never been stellar. Okay, that's out in the open. He hit a respectable .284 in 2007, but hasn't hit .250 since.
But he also hasn't hit fewer than 28 home runs since that season. When you factor that in with the fact that he draws a lot of walks—which gets him on base a lot—his poor batting average loses a lot of relevance.
Which player will have the most productive offensive season in 2012?
He can absolutely mash the ball. Don't ever underestimate how valuable a guy like that can be in a big game.
How many second basemen have hit 20 home runs in each of the last two seasons? Not many.
I understand if teams are afraid of his batting average. His .222 clip in 2011 is hardly attractive. Still, through that, he managed 21 homers in 147 games.
Also, I am not at all convinced that his batting average will stay that bad. He hit .284 in 2010, and .287 two years before that.
But if the average is really scary, realize that he's not a middle of the order guy. I like Johnson as a six or seven hitter to come in and drive in some ugly runs that the heart of the order fails to generate. In that role, I am not too worried about his average.
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