It’s been a rough last couple of seasons for Grady Sizemore. After accumulating 27.4 WAR from 2005-2008 — making him the fourth most valuable position player in the league over that same period — injuries have crippled the superstar outfielder. Despite his recent struggles, the Cleveland Indians have once again enlisted Sizemore’s services for the 2012 season. It’s been quite a while since Sizemore made an impact on fantasy teams. Should fantasy owners expect more of the same in 2012?
With Sizemore, there are two major areas of concern; his health, and his previous injuries (or how they might affect him going forward). Since we cannot really know the true extent of Sizemore’s health, we have to trust the Indians’ thought process behind the signing. Indians’ GM Chris Antonetti expects Sizemore to be fully healthy heading into next season. While that might be the case of a GM talking up a recent acquisition, it’s important to note that the Indians have the most updated health information on Sizemore, and felt comfortable bringing him back — albeit at a discounted price. That could be interpreted as a vote of confidence for the 29-year-old outfielder.
While we have to go on hearsay regarding Sizemore’s health status, the effects of his previous injuries are much easier to see. Sizemore has failed to resemble his former self the last three seasons, posting a poor .234/.314/.413 slash line over that period. His injuries have also seemed to have sapped him of his once terrific speed, making him a poor candidate to post strong stolen base numbers again. His speed may have clearly decreased, but can he still hit?
Due to his injuries, it’s really tough to know exactly how much is left in Sizemore’s bat. Outside of his disastrous 2010 season, Sizemore’s HR/FB% has remained somewhat steady — so he’s still shown the ability to hit for some power. Even though last season was injury plagued, he still managed 10 home runs and a .422 slugging percentage. That’s nothing to celebrate, but it’s a sign that his power is not completely gone.
His injuries may have affected his ability to hit for average, however. Before his injuries, Sizemore’s BABIP consistently fell in the .330 range. Once the injuries started to take hold, Sizemore’s BABIP has fallen to about .280. One of the reasons behind Sizemore’s unusually high BABIP early in his career may have been his ability to use his speed to beat out hits. A look at his infield hit percentage confirms that Sizemore is no longer able to beat out these ground balls. While he experienced somewhat of a rebound last season, it’s unclear if he’ll ever reach the heights of his prime when it comes to infield hit percentage. Another reason for Sizemore’s declining BABIP could be his increased infield fly ball percentage over the past few seasons. By overcompensating for his injuries, it’s possible Sizemore could have altered his swing — producing more infield fly balls.
Even though he faces a tough uphill battle, Sizemore’s upside is definitely worth a gamble. At the price he’ll be available in most drafts, the
risks strongly outweigh the rewards rewards strongly outweigh the risks. He may no longer offer speed, but he’s still shown the ability to hit for some power when healthy. If the power comes back, he might have some value in fantasy leagues. While he won’t hit for a high average, Sizemore has the potential to be a poor man’s Carlos Beltran this season (the 2011 version of Beltran, of course). His speed may be gone, but there’s a chance he can recapture his hitting skills. It’s a risk worth taking late in most drafts.
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