Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 2/12/12

Ryan Ludwick was traded from the Cardinals to the Padres in 2010 and spent two miserable half seasons in San Diego. In 160 games with the Pads, he hit .228 with a .659 OPS. Compare that to the 37 home runs he hit for St. Louis in 2008, and his .290 lifetime average at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Ludwick signed with the Reds as a free agent and says playing in the spacious Petco Park screwed up his swing.

“Playing in San Diego screwed me up,” Ludwick told the Cincinnati Enquirer last week. “I’m not using that as an excuse or a crutch, but it turned me into a dead pull hitter. I got away from what I was as a hitter.”

Ludwick may have overachieved when he was an All-Star in 2008, but he’s certainly not as bad as he was in his 160 games with San Diego. The point of this post is to show how much large ballparks can mentally affect a player. Players feel more confident stepping to the plate when they believe they can hit a home run. They hit with less confidence when they’re in a large park that feels more intimidating. We saw the same thing happen to David Wright when the Mets moved to Citi Field, and we saw the same thing happen with Ludwick.

Many teams that have built new ballparks lately have opted for large ones to help their pitchers. They need to realize how much of a turnoff that can be for pitchers too. This is just another reason why Adrian Gonzalez’s accomplishments with the Padres were so impressive.

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