Originally Posted by Steve4192
I think you are WAY overstating park effects in regards to both his struggles and his success. Of his 1466 ABs from 2009-2011, only 303 came at Petco. Nearly two-thirds of those ABs (188) came in 2011 when he OPSed 658 at Petco and 673 overall. Hardly a monumental difference.
The same goes for the influence of the GABP on his numbers in 2012. Sure, he was better at home, but only marginally so. He posted an 896 OPS at home this year and 856 OPS on the road. He had a good year. The park helped, but it was just icing on the cake. It didn't cause his great year in 2012, just like it won't prevent a return to normalcy in 2013.
In so far as those numbers go, you're right: Ludwick has been roughly the same hitter at home as on the road the past 3 years. But -- and I do not intend to speak for the original poster -- there can be a lot more to the effect of a park than just home/away splits.
And in the specific case of Ryan Ludwick, he's laid claim to those different factors. His story, as related in numerous interviews in late May and early June, is that he adopted a lot of bad habits trying to hit at Petco. He tailored his swing to the park, and that followed him on the road. One month playing Pittsburgh at the end of 2011 wasn't enough time to fix anything. It was only after starting to get regular playing time with the Reds that he kicked all those bad habits, and went back to his old approach. And voila: his numbers went back to their old selves, too.
Now, I'm not even close to being an eagle-eyed enough swing doctor to know if he's telling the truth, or just tossing out some malarkey to try to explain away the crazy ups and downs of baseball... but as far as anecdotal evidence goes, it DOES seem to fit the facts.
Ludwick's first 3 years in STL as a regular averaged out to .280/.350/.510 (.860 OPS)... his first half of 2010 (still in STL) was .281/.343/.484 (.827 OPS), which is roughly in line with his career up to that point, minus a bit of power (which could just have been a figment of the small sample size in 300 AB). Everything was still dandy when he got traded to SD.
Then a full season in Petco, plus about 40 games after being traded to PIT, all while picking up all kinds of bad habits, resulted in roughly a .230/.310/.330 (.640 OPS) line.
Head to Cincinnati, finally get the swing fixed up, and over the course of the season, he puts up .275/.345/.530 (.875 OPS), which looks strangely familiar. Ludwick just may have a bona fide justification for his fluctuations over time.
I don't have any foolish notions that Ludwick will ever be the hitter his was in June/July/August this past year, especially not at 33 or 34 or whatever. But I think it is perfectly realistic that he could put up another season or two of overall numbers in that neighborhood.
That said, I'd probably have reservations about any new deal that includes a guaranteed third year, or an annual average value much more than $7-8m. Age is not on Ludwick's side, and the way the Reds have been handing out the cash the past two off-seasons and the presumed payroll limitations, this could quickly turn into exactly the kind of mistake the Reds can't afford to make...