by Eno Sarris //
Every once in a while, injury suppresses a player’s stats at a key point in the season and creates a waiver-wire sleeper. At least, that has to be the reason behind the fact that Ryan Ludwick is only owned in 68% of fantasy leagues right now.
Just look at the Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools spider graphs. They sum up how Ludwick looks, sitting out there on the waiver wire with ‘only’ 11 home runs and a passable batting average. Mediocre.
But when Ludwick is in the lineup, he has been very good, a one-man argument for using rate stats over counting stats. His .279/.342/.482 batting line shows a player who can work the count and hit for power. If you pro-rated his current fantasy statistics out to a full year, you’d get 22 home runs and 84 RBI, useful even in mixed leagues, and the rate stats once again pass the sniff test.
Of course, Ludwick does have a perceived inability to hit left-handers, and judging from his career .772 OPS against left-handers, it’s tempting to sit him against all lefties, as his team often does. But he has only accrued 703 plate appearances against left-handers in his career, and righty/lefty splits have been shown to become significant at 2000 plate appearances. So even that flaw is not set in stone.
We do all remember Ludwick’s 2008 season, when he smashed 37 home runs. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s not looking like that 2008 version these days that has fantasy owners moving on to younger batters with more perceived upside. It is true that Ludwick is 32, but that also means that his 2172 plate appearances to date are significant. In those PAs, Ludwick has shown an isolated slugging percentage (ISO, or slugging percentage minus batting average) of .219. He’s at .203 this season, right between David Wright and Josh Willingham on the NL leaderboard.
If you’re in one of the 32% of leagues where Ludwick isn’t owned, pick him up immediately.
For more on other fantasy All-Stars, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.