Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grady Sizemore: The Forgotten Superstar


UPDATE: Thanks to Jordan Bastian:

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Grady Sizemore could make his Spring Training game debut as early as this coming weekend. But the Indians are still not sure how long it might take before the center fielder will be able to handle a full workload.
"With Grady," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said, "we'll have to see how well he progresses, how well his body responds, and how quickly he's able to build up to that volume.
"I don't think it will be very long until he can go play one nine-inning game. It's a question of how long will it take for him to play five or six consecutive nine-inning games."

Grady Sizemore has had two injury filled seasons with the Cleveland Indians.  In 2009, Sizemore fought through a groin (abdominal region) and an elbow injury as he posted career low numbers in every offensive category.   As Grady Sizemore commented (as reported by Skip Hall wrote in the Clevealnd Plain Dealer):

"I knew going into the year that it would be tough," Sizemore said in a meeting with reporters Friday afternoon. "I knew it would be a grind. I did my best to battle through it, to last as long as I could. I was never 100 percent, but you're going to go through times in your career when you're not 100 percent. I was still able to go out there."
Sizemore would play his last game of the 2009 season on September 3, 2009 and the Cleveland Indians woudl finish the year 7-22 without him.   On September 9, 2009, Sizemore would have surgery on his left elbow and on September 16, 2009 he had surgery to repair the lower abdominal region.  With these surgeries out of the way, Sizemore was expected to be 100% as he reported to spring training in 2010.  Sizemore did report to spring training healthy and entered the season ready to put the frustrations of the 2009 season in the rearview mirror and reestablish himself as one off the most dominant hitters in the Major Leagues.  But Sizemore would injure the knee diving back to first base in April and would re-injure it on May 16 while sliding into second base to break up a double play.  Sizemore would go on a nationwide medical tour receiving opinions on the injury from several doctors.  He would arrive at his final destination on June 16, 2010 at Dr. Richard Steaman's office in Vail, Colorado where he had microfracture surgery, which involves small holes being drilled into the kneecap to stimulate cartilage growth, on his left knee.  The surgery would end Sizemore's 2010 season and would lead to uncertainty on whether he could return to regain his former star status (Carlos Beltran underwent a similar procedure by Dr. Steadman and has not been able to comeback).

What would a full recovery from Grady Sizmore mean to the Cleveland Indians and what would a full recovery mean to Grady Sizemore's value on the free agent market?  To answer these questions, let's take a look back as to how good Grady Sizemore was prior to the injuries of 2009 and 2010.

7 Seasons821375232595678881954212942613441412731.272.363.477.8401221554
162 Game Avg.162740643112175388258426881144.272.363.477.840122307
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2010.

7 Seasons37523.4%19.5%11.0%9.8%41%1.774.525.37.70.600.8019%9.1%
MLB Averages2.7%17.3%8.6%7.9%34%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2010.

Grady has the unique ability to hit for power, steal bases, and maintain a healthy on base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG%).  Additionally, Sizemore is a two time gold glove winning center fielder.  Sizemore's career OPS (OBP + SLG%) is .840 and his career OPS+, (OPS+ is adjusted for the park and the league in which a player played.  An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be league average), is 122.  To illustrate the overall performance by Grady Sizemore, we can look at the fWAR (http://www.fangraphs.com/) and see that from 2005 through 2009, Sizemore accumulated the fifth most WAR (wins above replacement) of any major leaguer with 27.4.  The only players who accumulated more WAR than Sizemore were Albert Pujos (42.5), Chase Utley (37.3), Alex Rodriguez (33.4), and David Wright (30.3).  Using bWAR (http://www.baseball-reference.com/), Grady ranks sixth in WAR from 2005 through 2009 as shown below.

1Albert Pujols43.62005200925-29
2Chase Utley32.82005200926-30
3Alex Rodriguez31.82005200929-33
4Joe Mauer31.62005200922-26
5Mark Teixeira28.02005200925-29
6Grady Sizemore27.32005200922-26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/15/2010.


Sizemore was a premier defensive center fielder for the Cleveland Indians.  Based on UZR/150 (http://www.fangraphs.com/), Grady ranked as the 7th best CF in the majors in 2005 and 2006, 11th best CF in 2007, and 4th best CF in 2008 before dropping to 17th in his injury filled 2009 season.  Without Sizemore in 2010, the Indians would turn to Trevor Crowe to man CF for 567 innings and  Crowe would post a rather unimpressive UZR/150 of  -32.4 and Micheal Brantley for 562 innings and he would post an equally unimpressive UZR/150 of  -20.1.  Crowe would rank dead last in UZR/150 for players with at least 500 innings in CF and Brantley woud finish as the 4th worst UZR/150 for players with at least 500 innings in CF.  If you believe in the age old adage that defense up the middle is crucial to playing winning baseball then the effect of losing Grady Sizemore's defense in centerfield and replacing it with Trevor Crowe and Micheal Brantley can not be understated.

Grady Sizemore would bring a unique blend of defense and power to the centerfield position.  In 2005 Sizemore would rank 6th in home runs by a CF with 22, in 2006 he would rank 5th with 28, in 2007 he would rank 7th with 24, in 2008 he would finish ranked 1st with 33, and in 2009 he would rank 10th with 18.  In 2005 Sizemore would rank 9th in OBP by a CF at .348, 5th in SLG% at .484, and 5th in OPS at .832, and 5th in wOBA at .359.  In 2006, he would rank 2nd in OBP at .375, 3rd in SLG% at .533, 2nd in OPS at .907, and 2nd in wOBA at .386.  In 2007, he would rank 2nd in OBP at .390, 8th in SLG% at .462, 5th in OPS at .852, and 4th in wOBA at .376.  In 2008, he would rank 3rd in OBP at .374, 2nd in SLG% at .502, 2nd at OPS at .876, and 2nd in wOBA at .379. It is quite obvious that the playing through the abdominal and elbow injuries in 2009 affected his offensive production but Sizemore was still able to finish 13th in OPB at .342, 9th in SLG% at .445, 10th in OPS at .788, and 11th in wOBA at .343.

Getting on base is one of Sizemore's strengths, once on the bases Grady could pressure the opposition with his legs.  In 2005, Sizemore would steal 22 bases and have 111 runs scored.  In 2006, he would steal 22 bases and lead the legue in runs scored with 134.  In 2007, he would steal 33 bases and score 118 runs.  In 2008, he would steal 38 bases and score 101 runs.  As with Sizemore's other offensive numbers, Grady would see a decline in 2009 where he would only steal 13 bases and score 73 runs.  Grady would also do most of his damage out of the leadoff spot in the Indians lineup.  Sizemore provided everything a team would want in a leadoff hitter as the numbers below show.

1st Batter G6736735941361634210212170143.274.360.485.844
Leadoff Inn.7571350118326031580154545143277.266.357.473.830
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2010.

In 2010, the Indian CFs were able to muster enough power to hit 4 home runs finishing dead last in the American League for CFs.  Additionally, the Indian CFs finished dead last in the American League in OBP, SLG%, OPS, and batting average.  Not only were the Indians unable to replace Sizemore's defense in centerfield, they were unable to replace his power in the lineup or any of his offensive production that he brought to the CF position. Below is a Major League Ranking of offensive production from the CF position.

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2010.

A succesful comeback to the Cleveland Indians would mean everything to the franchise.  Prior to the injuries Grady was one of the most durable players in the game.  Eric Wedge could pencil Sizemore in his starting lineup nearly everyday and he took advantage  of that as Sizemore played in 158 games in 2005, 162 games in 2006 and 2007, and 157 games in 2008 before dropping to 106 games in 2009 and 33 games in 2010.  A successful comeback by Grady would provide the Indians wtih Gold Glove caliber defense in CF (Grady won the Gold Glove in 2007 and 2008), a sparkplug at the top of the lineup, a menace on the basepaths, and an experienced veteran in the clubhouse.

On December 8, 2010, Carl Crawford, who wil be turning 30 years old during the 2011 season,  signed a 7-year 142 million dollar contract to join the Boston Red Sox.  Crawford, like Sizemore, is valued because of his ability to play a gold glove caliber defense, the ability to steal bases, and his ability to get on base, get extra base hits, etc.  A quick comparion of the two players as of the end of the 2010 season shows a significant lead for Crawford in games played, hits, batting average, stolen bases, and triples while Sizemore has a higehr OBP, SLG%,OPS, OPS+, wOBA, and HR. Also of note, in their careers Crawford has amassed an fWAR of 34.5 and Sizemore an fWar of 28.2 and  Crawford has a bWAR of 26.1 and Sizemore a bWAR 27.9 of  The comparion table is included below:

On March 29, 2006, the Cleveland Indians signed Grady Sizemore to a six year contract extension totalling $23.45 million dollars.  It was, at the time, the longest extension given to a player with less than two years of service time.  The details of the contract can be found at Cot's Baseball Contracts:

Grady Sizemore of
6 years/$23.45M (2006-11), plus 2012 club option
  • 6 years/$23.45M (2006-11), plus 2012 club option
    • signed extension with Cleveland 3/06, replacing 1 year deal for 2006 signed 3/06
    • $1M signing bonus
    • 06:$0.5M, 07:$0.75M, 08:$3M, 09:$4.6M, 10:$5.6M, 11:$7.5M, 12:$8.5M club option ($0.5M buyout)
    • 2012 option may escalate to $10.5M if Sizemore wins Gold Glove or Silver Slugger, makes All Star team or ranks high in MVP vote (2008 All Star selection increased price of 2012 option to $9M)
    • award bonuses: $75,000 for All Star selection, $0.1M each for Gold Glove, Silver Slugger
    • if Sizemore is traded:
      • he receives $0.5M assignment bonus and his salaries for remaining seasons increase by 10%
      • 2012 option becomes a player option (buyout forfeited if Sizemore declines the option)
    • largest deal ever for play with less than 2 years of ML service
As seen above, Sizemore is guaranteed to make $7.5 million dollars in 2011 and the Indians hold a club option for 2012 for a current amount of $9 million dollars.  There is a stipulation in the contract that will make the decision on whether the Indians trade Grady Sizemore at the 2011 Trade Deadline or not.  If he is traded prior to the 2012 season, the club option for 2012 becomes a player option.  If Sizemore is putting together a typical pre-injury Grady Sizemore type season, there would be considerable interest in him at the July 31st deadline, but would his value be diminished by the rent-a-player label?  If  he does in fact have a typical Sizemore season and is a free agent following the 2011 season, would he be in line for a Carl Crawford type contract?  Would the Indians be best served to pick up the 2012 option after the season and shop him to a team that can have him for a full season in 2012?   Grady Sizemore will be hitting free agency when he is 30 years old at the oldest.  A return to form could mean a $100 million dollar plus contract while a disappointing 2011 season would most certainly diminish Sizemores value on the open market, possibly even with a strong return in 2012. 

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