Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Grady Sizemore's Fading Star

When Grady Sizemore re-signed with the Cleveland Indians last week it invoked memories of the sweet power and speed combo he possessed just a few years ago. Three injury riddled seasons later Sizemore is getting one last chance to reclaim his status as a baseball star in Cleveland.

There was a time when Sizemore smiled and all of Cleveland bowed at their knees. Now, Indians fans cringe when the words 'Grady Sizemore' and 'knees' are used in the same sentence. He has now had two knee surgeries, one on each knee, in the last two seasons. On top of that he had elbow surgery in 2009 and two separate sports hernia surgeries.

His injuries have sapped his power and his speed. The perpetual smile should be an annoyance but he continues to be a fan favorite. Enough so that the Indians were willing to give him one more season to prove he can remain healthy and be productive again. Apparently, his name in the lineup is enough to warrant the $5 million contract as he still puts fans in the seats. Make no mistake that this has to be the main reason they are giving him a shot, because there was nothing in the past two seasons which suggests he is going to be the same hitter he was four years ago.

Further, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti must feel that Sizemore can reach the incentives in the contract because if he does it means he is healthy and producing. This is something not seen in Cleveland since 2008. If Sizemore is not in the lineup his status as a fan favorite is worthless for gate revenues. If he is in the lineup and hits like 2010 and 2011, he is worthless to manager Manny Acta.

Check out Sizemore's dramatic fall from Cleveland's grace.

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 21 43 159 138 15 34 6 2 4 24 2 14 34 .246 .333 .406 .739
2005 22 158 706 640 111 185 37 11 22 81 22 52 132 .289 .348 .484 .832
2006 23 162 751 655 134 190 53 11 28 76 22 78 153 .290 .375 .533 .907
2007 24 162 748 628 118 174 34 5 24 78 33 101 155 .277 .390 .462 .852
2008 25 157 745 634 101 170 39 5 33 90 38 98 130 .268 .374 .502 .876
2009 26 106 503 436 73 108 20 6 18 64 13 60 92 .248 .343 .445 .788
2010 27 33 140 128 15 27 6 2 0 13 4 9 35 .211 .271 .289 .560
2011 28 71 295 268 34 60 21 1 10 32 0 18 85 .224 .285 .422 .706
8 Seasons 892 4047 3527 601 948 216 43 139 458 134 430 816 .269 .357 .473 .830
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/29/2011.

Sizemore was never a player who hit for average (.290 was his highest in 2006). But he used to get on base at a very good clip. This combined with his once exceptional speed contributed to four straight seasons of 100+ runs scored. He struck out often but also drew a good number of walks to compensate.

The 2010 and 2011 seasons have been a complete turnaround. Understandably the speed is gone. But, is there a correlation with elbow and knee surgery and hand/eye correlation? The last two seasons would have you think so. He has drawn 27 walks in 435 plate appearances. What a hack job! Not the surgeries, Sizemore's recent approach at the plate.

In all seriousness he has had an inexplicably hard time making contact since the injuries started to mount. His swinging strike percentage (w/o contact) in 2010 and 2011 was 19% and 22% respectively. This is up from a 12-14% range in his previous seasons. Of course, this has in turn dropped his contact percentage to 73% in 2010 and 70% in 2011 down from 80-83% in his better years.

At this point, what does anyone in the Indians front office see in Sizemore other than he makes the turnstiles go round and round? Hope for a return to 2008? First, they have to hope he can stay on the field. If he can, they better hope Sizemore changes his approach at the plate by working the count more and begins making contact at the same rate as he did a few years ago. If he can't, he becomes nothing more than a former star clogging up a roster spot.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

1 comment:

  1. Man he was such a great player when he first broke into the mlb. I think all he really needs is a break out year.

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