Oh 'brother,' Ludwick putting on a show in Cincy
As the 2012 season wears on, Ryan Ludwick keeps getting better and better.
The numbers are there to prove it. In April, Ludwick's batting average was a mere .190. In May, it rose to .224. In June, it was .253. In July, Ludwick's batting average soared to .333, and he added seven homers and 19 RBIs.
Ludwick has kept up that pace so far in August, batting .333 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs, with 11 games to go in the month.
So sure, there's statistical evidence, but what's the logic behind it?
"I've always said it takes guys that are older a little longer to get it. But once they get it, they keep it for an extended period of time," Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters. "That's what he's done. He's driving in runs, hitting home runs. And what a welcome sight he's been since the All-Star break."
Ludwick has his own explanation for his midseason surge.
"Maybe I'm like a really good cheese. The more you age me, the more mold you put on me, the better I get," he said, laughing. "I think I've found my stroke. I've kind of gotten back to where I was a year and a half, two years ago, and I'm happy about it."
Many have mentioned Ludwick's name in the conversation for the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.
"I think it would be a great honor, obviously," Ludwick said. "I guess the one downfall to that is that you had a couple of bad years in order to win that award. I think the main goal right now is not about Comeback Player of the Year Award for Ryan Ludwick, but a world championship for the Cincinnati Reds. I'm not worried about individual awards, but whatever might come, great."
Ludwick certainly sets the bar high for himself and his team, but the Reds are, after all, holders of a 6 1/2-game lead over the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central.
With that kind of pressure on the Reds, teammates are keeping the mood in the clubhouse light.
The man affectionately nicknamed "Luddy" has played a big part in that. Forget the "Beast Mode" championed by Prince Fielder and Matt Kemp, and the Marlins' "Lo Viste," Ludwick's new "Brother" motto is where it's at.
The craze has spread throughout the Reds' dugout after Ludwick started greeting teammates with an emphatic "Brother!" The team now uses it to celebrate on-field accomplishments.
For example, if teammate and fellow class clown Todd Frazier hits a home run, you can bet Ludwick will have a "Brother!" ready when Frazier returns to the dugout.
The whole thing started, Ludwick said, when he and reliever Sam LeCure played video games together on a road trip.
The two were dubbed the "Blade Brothers," and the nickname evolved from there. Reds blogger Jamie Ramsey has coined the term "Band of Brothers" to describe the 2012 Reds.
With all the attention Ludwick has been getting, he might want to think about trademarking "Brother."
"I think Hulk Hogan might have that trademarked already," Ludwick said with a laugh. "Maybe we can have Hulk Hogan come out here for a game, that would be great and he could drop a 'Brother' on us."
Ludwick described his teammates as "a happy-go-lucky bunch."
Did the club face extra pressure in the midst of a 10-game winning streak? Or, for that matter, a five-game skid?
"No, I think that's why this team's good. If you throw losing Joey Votto into the mix, that could be seen as pressure. And I don't think we feel pressure. We just enjoy what we do, we're having fun as a team," Ludwick said. "A lot of people have a good grasp on reality. We want to win baseball [games], and baseball is important to us, but there are other important things."
That's what they call a winning attitude.
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.