Pretty sure he’s been on the DL every year since the big 2008 with leg and back injuries. He’s back to a SO% that is closer to 2008 now, and if I recall correctly he was a “luck” poster boy for that big year where his BABIP was high for him. Would there be so much hesitation to just call him lucky if he didn’t have a pedestrian .297 BABIP this season?
As for the Reds getting lucky, looks to me like Walt Jocketty just knows the guy and what he can do if he’s healthy, and rolled the dice. It’s not like Ludwick has no pedigree, he was a 2nd round pick as a college OFer by the A’s, where Jocketty was in the front office (though not when Ludwick was drafted).
Familiarity with Ludwick may be playing a role too. Setting a guy up for success instead of failure is a key task of management and I’d guess that Jocketty and Dusty have had plenty of conversations about his strengths and weaknesses. It’s nice to see everything come together for a guy who we all know is not a star but a contributor. Still, as noted guys like him can make a huge difference to a team in their position.
One time I was in the record store buying a bunch of Coltrane records from his crazier, noisier period and this older hippy-ish type gentleman with long grey hair told me that “once you’re done with those I’ll show you some Albert Ayler…” Then his eyes got real big as he very creepily said, “he’s THE NEXT LEVEL…”
If the Reds (Jocketty) do know something about Ludwick that other teams don’t, next year’s performance will be a good test. Regression similar to his recent seasons would suggest mostly luck. Performance similar to 2012 in 2013 would suggest the Reds know something.
It is worth noting that Huff has not come close to repeating his 2010 season for the Giants. Which I think tells us a lot about whether the Giants were lucky or smart in 2010.