Out In Left Field: The Reds Injury Stricken Situation
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On Opening Day 2013, when Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick went down with a shoulder injury, it was a rather sinking feeling. After having overall good luck with health last season, it was clear that the Reds weren’t going to have quite that luck this season.
Then the bigger questions arose, will Chris Heisey finally prove he can play everyday, and how long will Ludwick be out?
Unfortunately, the bad luck didn’t stop there. Chris Heisey, after 17 starts (in 23 appearances) in Left Field, ended up on the DL at the end of April with a right hamstring injury.
Although his batting average was a measly .173, his defense was solid, 37 Put Outs in 38 Chances, and 0 errors. He looked to be close to returning a couple of weeks ago, before re-aggravating the injury on a rehab assignment at AA Pensacola.
“Next man up”, as they say…or in this case, next men up; Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson, and Donald Lutz. Paul made the Opening Day roster as a 5th outfielder, Robinson got the call from AAA Louisville after Ludwick went down, and Lutz also came up from Louisville, taking the roster spot of Chris Heisey.
You are trying to replace an OF who hit for a 3 Slash Line .275/.346/.877 – with 26 HRs and 80 RBI in just 422 At-Bats in 2012. Ludwick also had signed a 2 YR deal with the Reds worth $15 MIL over the winter.
Although Xavier Paul has gotten a majority of the playing time in Left Field, all 3 players have been a contributing factor to the Reds success so far this season, whether in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.
Xavier Paul has been the main Left Fielder in Ludwick’s absence, often getting replaced in the late innings by Derrick Robinson, whose speed and glove give him the edge defensively.
Paul has played in 31 games, making 27 starts (all in Left) with a .968 Fielding Percentage. Offensively, he’s cracked 3 HRs, while batting .267, with a .368 OBP, and driving in 18 in 119 Plate Appearances.
The team has only lost 6 games in which he has been in the Starting Lineup.
Derrick Robinson has appeared in 28 games since his call up, and has started 10, 8 of those in Left Field. He also has to 2 starts in Center Field, giving Shin-Soo Choo a break. Robinson’s role as late inning glove and pinch hitter is a role he seems to be adjusting to very well.
As an outfielder, he’s been flawless, 0 errors and 32 Put Outs in 32 Chances. He’s taken advantage of his opportunities offensively as well, batting .340 in 56 Plate Appearances, and getting on base at a .436 clip.
Donald Lutz has only started 6 games in the Outfield since his call up, with one of those in Right Field. However, he has appeared in 21 games, mainly Pinch Hitting, or as a 9th inning replacement. Defensively, in limited time, he too has been flawless; 22 for 22 and 0 errors.
He’s batting .262 in 43 Plate Appearances, with 6 RBIs, 1 Home Run, and .279 OBP. He’s likely to get sent back to Louisville when Chris Heisey returns, so he can go more consistent playing time and much needed At Bats.
It’s hard to say if the Reds will be in the market to trade for a Left Fielder around the All Star Break, we’ll have to wait and see how Ludwick progresses, and if the current tandem keeps being productive.
Also, the Reds may not be in a financial situation where they can take on more money, seeing as their payroll is already exceeding $100 Million for the first time in franchise history.
Hopefully when Ludwick does come back, he can get going by the time the Postseason rolls around, assuming the Reds are fortunate enough to be playing in October for the second consecutive year, which will be the first time since 1975 and 1976.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***
A big thank-you goes out to Matt Steinmann for preparing today’s featured article. Matt was born and raised in Cincinnati, and has been a Reds fan his entire life, along with the Bengals and the UC Bearcats. His first baseball memory was watching Pete Rose hit #4192 with his Dad and grandparents when he was 5 years old.
He didn’t quite understand exactly the significance of it at the time, but it’s always stuck with him, and his love and wanting to learn about the game grew from there. Matt considers himself lucky that he was able to watch Barry Larkin play his entire Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati, so he goes down as his favorite player.
Matt currently works for 700WLW radio, the Cincinnati Reds flagship station, as the producer for the early morning show. Feel free to follow Matt on Twitter and talk the game of baseball Follow @thesteinmann
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Posted on June 5, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @thesteinmann on twitter, BIlly Hamilton, chris heisey, cincinnati reds, Derrick Robinson, Donald Lutz, matt steinmann, NL Central, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (SOU), ryan ludwick, st louis cardinals, Xavier Paul. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.