What should be expected of Ryan “The Stud” Lud-wick?

As you may of heard, Ryan Ludwick was pretty awesome last season. 

As some may know, Ryan Ludwick hasn’t accomplished much as a Major League Baseball player. 

Ludwick has spent the majority of his career in the Minor Leagues, and several partial seasons in the big leagues.  Four partial seasons, one half season worth of plate appearances, and another full season which stands out like that is exactly what Ryan Ludwick is as a baseball player to some.

We sometimes pull for a guy that spends a lot of time in the minors, and this is no different.  If Ludwick continues to perform, then good for him.  Most players don’t become good baseball players at the age of 30. 

There are exceptions of course:  Carlos Pena was nothing much, then all of a sudden applied all of his natural skills and has become a great hitter.  David Ortiz of course was an average hitter and cut loose by the Twins, only to become great once he hit his prime (of course Ortiz was 27 at the time, not 30).  And Xavier Nady could be an example of this because he has lacked full time AB’s most of his career (but Nady is 30 and I would assume average is more realistic than good, but we never know).

I know that I do not refer to BA/BIP that much on this site, but when a player is not much of a Player, then has a great year with an unsually high BA/BIP.  Then I must question how good the player actually is. 

The thing is that I have heard a scout say that Ludwick had a lucky year.  Luck, it may be.  It may be skill too though, as I am not ruling that possibility out.  But at the age of 30, with many signs pointing to Ludwick having a career year in 2008.  Wouldn’t it have been better to sell high?  Or won’t it be better to sell high I mean?

Ludwick and the Cardinals are going through their little arbitration process right now, so eventually the two parties will come to terms.

And after that is done, should the Cardinals trade Ludwick? 

I just can’t bring myself to admit that Ludwick will be all that close to his 2008 performance.  And I know that there were discussions earlier in the off-season that included Ludwick’s name floating around, but nothing resulted of it.  Now they have a player that should only come down to Earth (although shouldn’t be bad by any means).

Again Ludwick will be turning 31 in 2009.  31, not 35.  But not 25, either.  And aside from the PED/steroids era, players are supposed to decline after the age of 31 or so. 

And what does that mean for Ludwick?   A player that should naturally regress because he probably isn’t that good.  And a player that should be declining in a few years anyway.

If Ludwick continues to play great in 2009 and beyond, the Cardinals will have to pay him big bucks, something they probably won’t do.  And if he doesn’t play well, then they lose out on a few prospects or another player they could be acquiring.  Of course, if Ludwick IS great, then he will help the team win, which is obviously the objective that any baseball team has.

It would be very surprising if he continued to hit great, however.  And the Cardinals may be missing an excellent opportunity to bring back a few decent pieces to help them win in the future–if they choose to keep him. 

But who knows.  Maybe the scouts have picked up on something that indicates that Ludwick will be a great player in 2009.  Maybe he has made adjustments fiddling around with his approach while in the minors for most of his career.  Ludwick did hit the ball hard last year, so that is a positive thing. 

But I still have a strong belief, that a high BA/BIP, a career year, and a very late surge in his career, will lead to a 2009 season that is more average than great.