At the beginning of the season, I made some recommendations for possible scapegoats for the Reds 2012 season. You can read it again, here, if you really like, but my pre-season nominees were Dusty, Stubbs, Bronson, Ludwick, Madson, Marshall, and Latos.
Most of these guys are still in the running. And Madson unwillingly abdicated before the season. I’m sure he’s not the most popular person in Reds fandom right now, but he’s just not eligible for the sort of blame/hate we’re looking for. Ludwick, however, may have just earned his way off the list.
Tonight, Ludwick hit a game winning extra innings home run to ensure a series win against the Cardinals. It was his only hit of the night, so it dropped his average to .239, but it will raise his previous season OPS of .797 (good enough for a 108 OPS+). That’s really, really adequate. Heck, it’s more than adequate! It’s downright acceptable.
His defense hasn’t looked great, but defensive metrics, such as they are, only say that he is average – even so, he’s got the sixth best WAR among the team’s hitters, and that’s in limited playing time. He doesn’t have a crazy high BABIP that’s going to deflate and make him crash, either. That’s not to sat he won’t suck a little going forward.
In any case, I’m not ready to call for him to be an every day player, but given his performance, his salary, and the expectations, it’s clear that he’s not the scapegoat we’re looking for.
To take his place, I regretfully offer Jay Bruce. Jay Bruce, is, really doing fine. But actual performance is honestly, just one part of the scapegoat equation. What people do remember is that he has a .250 average! And strikes out with men on base! and made some obvious defensive gaffes in the last month! Thus, everything wrong is all his fault. Hey, I don’t like it other, but the scapegoat machine can’t play favorites. Sorry JB, I still love you.