PHOENIX -- Ryan Ludwick was one of the great stories of the 2008 season, and if the start to this campaign is any indication, it is going to be continuation of the same. The Cardinals right fielder is off to a fast start, riding a 17-game hitting streak dating back to last season, shrugging off any talk of him being a one-year wonder, after putting it all together with his fifth organization. He had a home run on Opening Day and hasn't slowed much since. Entering Monday's game at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he was hitting .389 with two home runs, five RBIs and 14 total bases.
"Since we've had him, he's been a healthy and a productive player," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He didn't do anything different this year. He is still working hard and still looking to make his mark." Ludwick, 30, was solid with the Cardinals in 2007, when he hit .267 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs in 120 games, but last season was a breakout, as he batted .299 with 37 home runs and 113 RBIs in being named to the National League All-Star squad and winning the Silver Slugger Award. He became the third player in history, matching Hideki Matsui (2004) and Lefty O'Doul (1929), to hit 30 home runs and have 100 RBIs at age 30 while having less than 750 career at-bats. Prior to his success with the Cardinals, Ludwick had stints in Oakland, Texas, Cleveland and Detroit totaling 104 career games, during which he hit .237 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Jason P. Skoda is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.