Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why The Ludwick Hate?

So many things to talk about from last night.  So, so many things:
  • Why the Padres didn't try to squeeze in the fourth inning.
  • Why Ernesto Frieri can't find the strike zone.
  • Why Wade LeBlanc continues to get starts and Cory Luebke doesn't.
I was going to write about any number of these (and probably still will in the coming days).  On the drive in this morning, however, I was distracted from that by Scott Kaplan (of Scott and BR fame on XX1090).  Naturally it makes sense this morning, after a nightmarish 7th inning which saw 10 consecutive Red Sox reach base with 2 outs, that the first Padres player Scott Kaplan decides to hammer is Ryan Ludwick.  To paraphrase: 'If I have to watch one more Ludwick dive...'.

Why all the Ludwick hate?  Why does Kaplan have a hardon for Ludwick?

Since May first, Ludwick is hitting .295/.348/.416.  He's one of only two guys on this team (the other being Chase Headley) hitting consistently, and he's the only real power threat the Padres have.  I've documented here that his defense is not as bad as most believe.  So why the continual Ludwick bashing?

Because of his diving attempt to catch Kevin Youkilis' double in the seventh inning?  Let's analyze that sequence for a moment.

When Youkilis stepped to the plate for the second time, the Padres were on their third pitcher of the inning.  There had already been 4 walks (one intentional) and 2 hit batsman in the inning.  After Frieri retired Youkilis for the second out (on a fly to Ludwick no less), the Red Sox hitters went: intentional walk (Ortiz), walk (Drew), HBP (Scutaro on ball 4), HBP (Varitek), single (Reddick), single (Ellsbury), walk (Pedroia), and single (Gonzalez).

That's a long inning.

Youkilis' second fly ball was the first ball (since his previous at bat in the inning) where a Padre fielder even had a whisper of a hope of making the play.  Ludwick, tired of standing in LF watching the carnage, tired of his team getting its brains beat in, tired of not being able to do anything to stop it - ran flat-out down the warning track from where he had been positioned (more in LC than LF) and tried to make the play to get out of the inning.  He missed.  Youk ended up with a double.

That's the play.  This isn't Ludwick diving under a ball which led to 2 runs and the loss like he did on 11 June against Washington (although that play happened in the first inning, so the Padres had the entire game to score three).  This was Ludwick trying to get his team out of a nightmare of an inning.  That's the play Kaplan decides to make fun of at the start of his show this morning?

People who hate Ludwick because he flopped down the stretch last season need to get over it.  People who hate Ludwick because he started this season hitting .098 need to look at what he's done lately.  Ryan Ludwick is not the problem here.

Come on, Scott Kaplan - you're better than this.

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