Baseball Card of the Week: Ryan Ludwick

The time has come. The time is now. 

Tonight we witness The Return

Well, actually, those capital letters may be a little misleading. See, Ryan Ludwick is coming off the DL tonight, which is a pretty damned dramatic thing. However, seeing as how this team seems to constantly be welcoming some player or another back from injury, surgery, purgatory, or mental illness, it's probably just a plain old lower-case return. 

Nonetheless, Ludwick coming back off the DL is a big deal, and shouldn't be taken lightly. Is he the only thing that's been missing from the Cardinals' offense these last couple of weeks? No. Plate discipline, the ability to hit the ball over 200 feet, and any semblance of intelligent base-running (Joe Thurston, I'm looking in your direction), have also been noticeably absent. However, several of those other situations have been badly exacerbated by the gaping hole left in the middle of this lineup when Luddy isn't in there. 

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This week's card is a 2001 Ryan Ludwick rookie card by Bowman, back when he was a hotshot prospect in the Athletics' organization. 
So in the spirit of making sure that this semi-momentous occasion is given the proper level of respect and- dare I say, seriousness- that it deserves, Ludwick the Studwick gets a Card of the Week. 

How much of a difference has Ludwick's injury made in the Cardinals' offense? Tough to say, really, as lots of other things have gone wrong over the course of a rough May, but take this for whatever you think it might be worth: through the 12th of May, the day that Ludwick was injured chasing down a fly ball, the Cardinals scored 173 runs in 33 games, or right about 5.25 runs per game. In the 14 games since, the Cards have put up 44 runs, for a per game total of 3.14. That's painful. In addition, they've been shut out twice these past two weeks. In those first 33 contests, they weren't shut out at all. Only a truly transcendent run of starting pitching has allowed them to stay in solid shape. 

So yeah, there have been plenty of problems with the Cards' roster; hell, I've complained enough about them that you should know by now. But hey, since Luddy's been gone, the Cardinals have lost two full runs a game. I'm not saying, I'm just saying, okay? 
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