From 2005 to 2008, nobody in the American League and only one player in baseball accumulated a higher bWAR than Grady Sizemore (Chase Utley, who got MVP votes five years in a row from 2004-09). In fWAR, he was fourth from 2005-08 with a 27.2. He only trailed names such as Albert Pujols, Utley, and Alex Rodriguez. At age 23 in 2006 he posted a 7.9 fWAR. By age 24, he had an 18.7 bWAR. Barry Bonds by age 24 had a 22 bWAR.
At age 25 he was one of 30 players ever to post a 30 double, 30 homer and 30 steal season. (39-33-38). Bonds at age 25 won the NL MVP with 32 doubles, 33 homers and 52 steals.
From 2005 through 2008 Sizemore placed top 15 in MVP voting three times, made three All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove.
By age 26, it was all over. He was essentially on a career path that would have at least put him on the fringes of the Hall of Fame had he produced numbers near his career averages into his early 30s.
Instead, on Valentine’s Day, the Indians hired Sizemore at age 34 as a Player Development Advisor and an instructor in camp.
What was the reaction to Sizemore’s hiring?
Mostly good. People remembering the name and face, the tea cup and of course the ladies remembered Grady.
But some people apparently forgot Sizemore’s playing resume in Cleveland pre-injury. It was as if his injuries wiped their memory of the talent he was like some flashy thingy in Men In Black.
These are just a few examples, obviously. But it’s amazing that people’s memories of a player who posted nearly an eight win season at age 23. He was arguably the Indians best all around player since Roberto Alomar. From 05-08, he stole 115 bases and hit 107 homers. He was only shades below Kenny Lofton in center field, he had Barry Bonds power before he got to San Francisco and had top-10 impact on the bases from 05-08.
The Indians weren’t even a decade removed from their mid-1990’s, early 2000’s glory and already had a full fledged star. Injuries robbed him of what should have been at least an Indians Hall of Fame career. Hes 14th all time in Indians history in homers (139), 15th in steals (134), 17th in fWAR (30.2.) 20th in doubles (216), 24th in triples (43), and 34th in defensive runs above average (31.6).
Remember all that was done 639 games. He played no less than 157 games in that four year stretch. In 2006 and 2007 he played in all 162 games. His all out style of play, constantly in action no matter where he was on the field in those 639 games in that four year period is probably what did him in. He suffered through several injuries to his legs, back and oblique and endless rehabs.
Somehow despite that, people think Sizemore was stealing money from the organization. From 2005-08, Sizemore made $4.9 million. In that span, Carlos Beltran, who put up similar numbers in that four year stretch, made north of $57 million. Sizemore was better all around that Beltran in that stretch but because of his age and service time, wasn’t paid like it.
Yet people think he robbed the Indians of money.
From 2009 through 2012, Sizemore made just shy of $24 million. So even during his injured years with the Indians, he made $34 million less than Beltran made during that stretch from 2005-08. Sizemore was never aptly paid like the star he was because of the MLB’s service time rules and injuries prevented him from reaching that earning potential. To say that he robbed the Indians organization of money is highly laughable and ignorant. It was the exact opposite.
During the four year stretch, Grady Sizemore was one five best position players in all of baseball and at age 25, was just starting to hit his prime years. The skinny, left handed swinging kid in the trade for ace Bartolo Colon that never looked he’d develop power turned into one of the game’s best players before he even hit his peak. 600-plus games later, it was all gone. From 2005-08, Sizemore averaged 26 homers, a .281 average, 28 steals, 40 doubles and 81 RBI. Had he kept that average up over the next five seasons with the Indians instead of injuries affecting his performance, he would have had 130 homers from age 26 to 30,140 steals, 200 doubles and 405 more RBIs.
Unfortunately injuries have clouded the view of some in Cleveland about one of the best players in franchise history. He impacted the game in center field, at the plate and on the bases. Aside from his throwing up, Sizemore was a complete player and it’s sad to see how many people only see what he couldn’t do because of injuries and let that get in the way of seeing what a great player he was.