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Sizemore Will Come Around

Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore entered the 2009 season perched near the top of any fantasy draft list you could get your eyes on. His talents are obvious: the 26 year-old owns a career .369 wOBA, a .275/.366/.485 line and he swiped in excess of 30 bases in each of the past two seasons. Sizemore looked like a very wise investment, and one with upside to boot as he entered what are typically the peak years for hitters.

Instead, Grady’s wOBA sits at a gruesome .299. After compiling 35.2 Batting Runs in 2008, Sizemore checks in at a minuscule -5.5 in 2009. By either measure, he has been the least productive Indian among batters taking at least 50 PA.

So, is it time to barter Sizemore in hopes of recouping some value on that high draft pick? When you dig a little deeper into Grady’s subpar season, the answer becomes apparent: heck no.

In most respects, Sizemore’s core numbers are in line with his stellar work in previous seasons. His walk rate is 11.1 percent, very near his 11.3% career average, and his Outside-Swing Percentage is 19.4% in 2009 (18.6 career average). His strikeout rate is slightly higher this season (24.9%, compared to a 22.6% career average), but not alarmingly so.

Sizemore is driving the ball a little less this season with a .181 Isolated Power (Slugging% minus BAVG; his career average is .210), but it isn’t as though he has been punchless. He’s still making plenty of hard contact, too, with a 20.8% line drive rate (21% career average). Sizemore isn’t suddenly chopping the ball into the dirt frequently, either, with a 35.4 groundball percentage and a 43.8 flyball percentage (his career marks are 36.7% and 42.3%, respectively).

So, if the 2009 version of Grady so closely resembles the 2004-2008 models, then why is his lumber in the gutter? While he is getting jammed more often than usual (his infield/flyball percentage is 17.5%, compared to a 7.4% career average), the main culprit is a .240 BABIP that’s nearly 80 points below his career average of .319. That’s one of the 15 lowest marks in the majors, and goes a long way toward explaining why he has more closely resembled Carlos Gomez at the dish, instead of the championship-caliber player we have come to know and love.

Sizemore hasn’t been himself on the base paths to this point (7 SB and 6 caught stealings, with a 3.9 Speed Score that’s way below his 7.1 career mark). However, there’s not much to worry about regarding his hitting. Sizemore should commence lashing pitches into the gaps and getting on base at a healthy clip from here on out. If you have weathered the storm to this point, hold steady: Grady’s not playing nearly as bad as his surface stats would indicate.