|Sizemore Could Have Been an All-Time Great||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on April 27, 2011
It's always unfortunate when a player with serious talent succumbs to a rash of injuries. What's more unfortunate is that this happens all too often.
Not too long ago, Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore was a star player. He was one of only a handful of five-tool players left in the game and still had his best years ahead of him.
Sizemore could do anything on a baseball field. He turned in highlight-reel catches night after night and was an all-around offensive threat. He was the only player from 2005-2008 to hit at least 20 HR and steal at least 20 bases each season.
In addition to his production, Sizemore was durable. Though he put his body on the line each night, he only missed nine games in that four-year span.
Despite his early career success, injury woes caught up with Sizemore. In 2009, he suffered a strained left elbow in spring training but opted to play through the pain. He missed the final month of the season after surgery on the elbow. He also had surgery on his lower abdomen to repair a hernia that plagued him earlier that season.
He returned healthy in 2010, but after just 33 games, he was forced to undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee.
What could have become of Grady Sizemore had he stayed healthy the last two years?
Sizemore was on the verge of gaining superstar status. Some even considered him to be the best overall player in the game.
He recorded a 30 HR-30 SB season in 2008, which was expected to be the norm for the remainder of his career. As a result, he would have been a perennial All-Star. By now, he should have been one of the most marketable faces in the game, despite playing in Cleveland.
His average WAR (wins above replacement player) was 6.1 from 2005-2008, meaning that just his performance would contribute six wins to the Indians' total. On a team that didn't win too many games during that span, each one of these wins was priceless.
Though the rest of the team struggled on the field, Sizemore gave Indians fan a glimmer of hope. He was to be the centerpiece that Cleveland would build around for the next decade.
The Indians developed some talented young offensive players over the last few years including Matt LaPorta, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley. Paired with Sizemore, this team could have been a serious contender in the AL Central.
Last year must have been tough for Indians fans. They weren't expected to be competitive in the first place, but they at least could place their confidence in Sizemore to provide exciting baseball. As a smaller market team, the Indians have to rely on players like Sizemore in order to draw fans.
Competing with the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers -- at least last year -- was going to be an arduous task. When Sizemore went down early, Cleveland basically lost all hope of an already outside shot at the playoffs.
Luckily for the Indians, Sizemore has returned and is swinging a hot bat to start his year. Even without Sizemore, Cleveland is off to a torrid start, which has increased hope for a city that has gotten used to losing.
A healthy season from Sizemore will remind fans of his tremendous talent. Though he lost parts of two seasons, there's still a chance Sizemore regains his form.
The real question will be answered after the season. Sizemore has an $8.5 million club option after this season with a $500,000 buyout. He will be 29 at season's end.
If Sizemore cools down after his hot start and spends time on the disabled list, will the Indians want to exercise his lucrative option?
Had he not gotten hurt, the Indians might have already locked him up to a long-term extension. On the other hand, if he remained healthy, another team may have offered several top prospects in a trade for Sizemore with the goal of signing him to a multi-year contract.
However, what's done is done, and Sizemore will have to prove that he is still the player he once was for a team to place their confidence in him. Assuming he's just half the player he was, the Indians should do what they can to exercise Sizemore's option and work to bring back the face of their franchise for multiple years.