A different kind of platoon
When I came to the park today and saw Ryan Ludwick’s name in the lineup against Homer Bailey, in place of Juan Encarnacion, I thought, ‘nice move.’ Not because of any problem with Encarnacion, but because of the kinds of hitters the two guys are, and the kind of pitcher they were going against.
Lo and behold, Ludwick commits an act of great violence on a Bailey pitch, hitting it 473 feet. Anecdotal evidence indicated that Ludwick was a good matchup for a big power guy like Bailey. Ludwick can get around on anybody’s fastball, and when he does, he can hit it a mile.
Meanwhile, most of Encarnacion’s damage seems to come against guys who don’t throw hard. I already knew that was borne out by the hitters against whom Encarnacion has had success — .342 against Glavine, .350 against Moyer, .351 against Maddux, .385 vs. Livan Hernandez, etc. Meanwhile, guys like Hudson, Oswalt, Sheets and Penny shut him down.
So I went and looked at the splits. ESPN.com actually has a power/finesse split. And what do you know, Ludwick has CRUSHED power pitchers. .308/.372/.718 from 2004-2006. In 2003, the last season he played much in the bigs, it was .325/.385/.602. We’ll see what it looks like once the splits are calculated after today’s game.
We’re still not talking a ton of at-bats. But when the eyeball tests corresponds with even a small-sample-size stats test, it probably tells you something. When the Cardinals go against power pitchers, Ludwick should be in the lineup. Worry less about left-right, and more about what kind of pitcher is on the mound for the other guys.