Ryan Ludwick ended 2014 with 20 doubles, 9 home runs, 60 singles, and $8.5 million. The easy answer is that this is a disappointment, but he was the team's fourth-best hitter on the year. He was a symptom, not the disease.
But as far as symptoms go, this was more of the red pustules variety. He's killed fastballs throughout his career, but after his dislocated shoulder in Game One of 2013 he hasn't been able to turn on anything with authority. He's left to try and spin on an elevated breaking pitch, and judging from the above line, he got about 29 elevated breaking pitches this year.
It's too bad, because Ludwick's right-handed swing is a thing of beauty. Watching him turn on a lefty's slider and smash it into the LF wall on a fly was a lot of fun, and it's odd to think of him just bashing Madison Bumgarner back in the NLDS Game Two and look at where they are now. Luddy's arms-first swing was a thing worth smiling at, he jumped at bad pitches like a golden retriever after a tennis ball and had enough discipline to spit at inside pitches he couldn't handle or foul them off. For how little he actually DID as a Red, I really liked having him around.
And it seemed like the rest of the team did too. His "Brotherrrr" jokes with Sam LeCure were the story of 2012, and he hung out in the clubhouse all 2013 when he could've stuck at home with his enormous cats and by-all-counts-pleasant wife and kids. He seemed to enjoy Cincinnati as much as I do, even taking a discount after 2012 to stick around. He famously complained about the fans once, which was an incredible bummer, but also seemed to stick up for his teammates and give the press quotes when BP, Votto, Jay, et al didn't want to.
That, and exasperated Ludwick faces were a blast. He always seemed more frustrated with a bad at-bat than the fans, and his gasp for air in the 16th-inning marathon a bit ago is basically The Face of Red Reporter as far as I'm concerned.
I probably shouldn't miss Ludwick as much as I will. But 2012 was a whole lot of fun, and he's basically paved the way for Mesoraco and Frazier to be the righty mashers this team needs in his stead. I'd honestly be amazed if he gets a guaranteed contract this offseason what with his bad d and a crippled bat, but I hope that if he does come back and get a PA in GABP he gets a round of applause. It's not his fault 2013 and 2014 kinda sucked, and he was a tremendous part of 2012. Thanks for the past three years, Luddo. Hope you have an outfield fence at home to smash cut fastballs into.