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.
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