Ryan Ludwick makes acrobatic catches in left field

David Brown
Big League Stew

It might not have been a textbook performance (particularly his twirling second catch), but outfielder Ryan Ludwick of the Cincinnati Reds put on an entertaining show in the sixth and seventh innings Saturday night. Ludwick, whose offensive revival this season after a sub-par 2011 helped the Reds stay ahead of the pack in the NL Central, made a pair of great catches in left field to keep the Giants off the bases in Game 1 of the NLDS:

In the sixth, he robbed Brandon Belt of a double, laying out full extension at medium depth and near the line after running from the warning track. To end the seventh, Ludwick — a left-handed thrower — turned the wrong way on a line drive by Marco Scutaro. But because he already was playing deep, Ludwick had time to quickly make a corrective turn, and grab the ball as he reached over his head. Otherwise, Pablo Sandoval would have batted with a runner in scoring position and Buster Posey on deck.

That's not how you'd teach the youngsters at home, and it's probably not how Ludwick learned to play the outfield. But when you show some athleticism and make an effective play with your glove, it can put you on the highlight reels and help your team win a playoff game.

As TBS broadcaster Brian Anderson put it, Ludwick is not known for his defense, and his UZR/150 rating — for whatever it's worth — has slipped the past two seasons. It has been Ludwick's offensive contribution, particularly in the second half — .309/.379/.581 with 14 homers for a 162 OPS+ — helping to lead the way, especially with Joey Votto sidelined and hampered because of knee problems. Ludwick went 0 for 3 with walk and two strikeouts in Game 1. But he also brought his glove.

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