Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is Ryan Ludwick a Keeper?

In what may become a semi-regular occurrence here at Joe & Joe Sports, we'll (probably) be taking a look at what we can expect from certain players (who most likely either over or under achieved in 2008) in the 2009 MLB season. Ryan Ludwick certainly overachieved and will be the focus of today's look.

First, some business. I don't play in your league (ok, ok, the only people who read this blog DO play in my league, but let's just pretend for a minute) and I don't know your specific league setting and rules (i.e. Head vs. Head or Roto, Batting Average or OBP, or, probably most important, number of keepers). Since all this stuff comes into play, what we will really try to answer here is "what can I expect from this player in 2009". For those of you that need a definite answer, fine, you win, I'll give you an answer, but it will be for a standard 12 team Yahoo! Roto league with 8 keepers per team, so keep that in mind.

On to Ryan Ludwick. Unless you play in a ridiculously deep MLB league or an NL-only league, Ludwick was not drafted in 2008. Coming into the past season, Ludwick had never played an entire season in the majors and had often been sidelined with injuries. 2007 showed a little promise for Ludwick, smacking 14 homers in only 303 ABs, but a .267 batting average kept anybody from getting too excited leading into 2008. Odds are Ludwick probably got picked up sometime prior to June 1, at which time he had 13 homers, a batting average of .314 and an obscene OPS of 1.060. While Ludwick fell back to earth in June, he had a pretty decent second half of the season, finishing with 37 HR, 113 RBI, 104 Runs and a .299 batting average. And of course, if you are asking if Ludwick is a keeper, you already know all this.

So what can we expect from Ludwick in 2009? First off, Ludwick is a serious injury concern. From 2002 to 2005 Ludwick maxed out at 128 games between his major and minor league service and he only broke 100 games in one other season. It is unlikely that Ludwick gets 500+ at bats in 2009 and that hurts his fantasy value. On the upside, Ludwick has the minor league stats to back up his 2008 season. He regularly slugged over .500 in AAA and had several seasons with very nice batting average and power numbers. Even if Ludwick stays healthy, I doubt he will be able to match the extraordinary numbers he put up this season. I would expect something along the lines of .285, 30 HR, 85 RBI and 80 runs. Those numbers would validate keeping him and, since it's pretty hard to predict injury, I recommend keeping him too.

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