“We don’t expect Grady Sizemore to play 150 to 160 games like he has in the past,” said GM Chris Antonetti. “But we expect him to play the vast majority of games next year.” Is that the quote you wanted to read if you were hoping that Grady Sizemore would have a big bounce back season in 2012? Despite the proverbial bar being set extremely low, the Indians invested a relatively minor $5 million backing Sizemore on a one year deal to allow him to return to Cleveland (there are incentives worth $4 million based upon plate appearances an another $500,000 that he could pick up if he wins the Comeback Player of the Year award). How should Sizemore be viewed in the fantasy game for 2012? With extreme caution in my book.
From 2005-2008 Sizemore was easily one of the top-10 outfielders in the fantasy game. In that four year span the average Sizemore effort resulted in 27 homers, 29 steals, 81 RBI and 116 runs scored. Each of the four years he went at least 20/20 with 100 runs scored, and in 2008 he upped the bar to include 33 homers, 90 RBI and 38 steals (all three of those numbers were career bests). Then, the bottom fell out for Grady. He appeared in just 106 games in 2009. He followed that up with a mere 33 games in 2010. In 2011 things got better, but only marginally, as he appeared in 71 games. Injury after injury with the guys wheels kept him out of action. As a resulted of all the issues with his knees, Sizemore has not only been unable to drag his body out onto the field with any regularity, he’s also failed to generate any type of productivity when he has been on it.
Grady has stolen a mere 17 basses in his last 210 games played. Remember, this was a guy who averaged 29 steals a season over his last four healthy campaigns. Just as disconcerting for Sizemore is the fact that he not only stopped running, he stopped hitting as well. In 832 at-bats over the past three seasons Grady has batted .234 which is .029 points below the league average and .035 points below his career mark. Sizemore also produced a mere .314 OBP, .017 points below the league average and .043 points below his career mark. Finally, his SLG was .413, .006 points below the league mark and .060 points off his career mark. Don’t forget either, that when I say his “career mark” I’m including the poor numbers we’ve seen from him the last three years. If we remove those three awful years, the gap at each number grows substantially. From 2004-08 his slash line was .279/.370/.491 compared to his marks the last three years of .234/.314/.413. That’s like comparing Curtis Granderson to Vernon Wells. I also neglected to mention that he has hit a total of 18 homers over his last 832 at-bats or one every 46.2 at-bats. Prior to the onset of injury, Sizemore averaged a homer every 24.3 at-bats.
So Grady has stopped running, and it would appear he’s also stopped hitting. He’s now coming back off yet another procedure (Sizemore had surgery on his right knee in October, and he never really seemed to make a full recovery from a much more serious microfracture operation on his left knee prior to the 2011 season). While everyone is putting on a happy face, the truth is that it’s been four years since we saw the “real” Grady Sizemore. It’s been four years since he hit at the major league level. It’s been four years since he got on base at the major league level. It’s been four years since his SLG was at the major league level. It’s been four years since he stole bases at anything resembling his previous all-star levels. Now we get his own GM telling the world that the team hopes he will be able to play most of the time in 2012 but that even they aren’t expecting that to mean that he will take the field 150 times in 2012. Does that sound like a guy you want to be rolling with in your fantasy league?
Draft Sizemore at a point where you feel comfortable that his performance will match his cost. Do not draft Sizemore at a point where you think his cost will match his performance. It’s been years since we’ve seen the Sizemore that we all remember building our fantasy rosters around, an until I see that Sizemore on the field, I’m not going to reach for Grady on draft day. If you take a shot on him as your 4th or 5th outfielder in a mixed league, I’d be fine with that, but know full well that the chances of him going 20/20 with 100 runs scored in 2012 is about the same as it is that Mr. Wells will pull off that same trick for the Angels.
By Ray Flowers