The Brewers can all but put away the Wild Card today and tomorrow if they can sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in a little two-game series in St. Louis. Even a split leaves them in great shape. The pesky redbirds have defied everyone’s expectations this year, conjuring good starting pitching out of the Todd Wellemeyers of the world, and dangerous power hitters out of the Ryan Ludwicks of the world. That’s Ryan Ludwick of the 154 OPS+ and the .304/.380/.599 line. That’s Ryan Ludwick, the 29-year old journeyman (Texas, Cleveland, St.Louis), who until last year had never played in more than 47 games in a season, and has put up season OPS+s of 66, 93, and 74 prior to his 2005 mark of 125 (in only 19 games, however).
Here are some Brewers with worse lines than Ludwick’s:
Ryan Braun - .299/.338/.590, 138 OPS+
Prince Fielder - .270/.369/.501, 126 OPS+
Ludwick would unquestionably be the Brewers’ best hitter.
Baseball Prospectus wrote this about Ludwick before the 2007 season:
“Ryan Ludwick was one of a number of `in case of emergency` players that the Tigers signed last winter; he had a pretty good year at Toledo, but the emergency never came. There`s nothing to suggest that he can`t be an effective fourth outfielder in the big leagues, and nothing to suggest he`ll be better than that either.”
And this before the 2005 season:
Ludwick spent most of 2004 getting his knee healthy after an off-season operation. Acquired from Texas in 2003, he's hit relatively well in the minors but failed to produce in his brief time in the majors. In part this is because playing in the PCL overstated his offensive potential a little, in part because a mid-range offensive prospect without plate judgment is like a parachutist who fills his container with chocolate pudding instead of silk.
Yet this mid-range offensive prospect is currently 17th in all of baseball in VORP, just above Oriole second baseman Brian Roberts and just below Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Hopefully the Brewers can hit the Cardinals with a healthy dose of reality and drive the Braden Loopers and and Kyle Lohses back to the ranks of the mediocre, where they belong.
Baseball Prospectus currently puts the Brewers’ odds of making the playoffs at 83.2%. Not too shabby.
The Olympics Are Chicago’s To Lose
I predicted as much when this whole process began. Getting the Olympics in your town requires a certain level of corruption, and no one out-corrupts the mayor of Chicago. What Daley wants, Daley gets.
It’s Zambrano v. Snell. Let’s hope that CC Sabathia is a continuing source of inspiration.
Today’s Hair of the Dog is brought to you by Three Floyd’s Gumball Head. It’s extra bubbly.