This is the hardest goodbye to say for me as a Cleveland Indians fan as Grady Sizemore was the face of the franchise from 2005 to 2009. Much has been written about the famous Bartolo Colon trade in 2002 which netted the Indians Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Sizemore. Sizemore was the lottery ticket in the deal and he delivered once he reached MLB. He joined the Indians in 2004 playing 43 games and giving us flashes of what he was going to become.
Sizemore then started a run from 2005 to 2008 where he only missed nine games and posted Fangraphs WAR ranging from 5.8 to 7.4. You can make a case that he deserved to be the American League MVP in 2008. His Baseball Reference comparison scores compare him to Duke Snider and Barry Bonds during these seasons. He was also one of the most exciting players in MLB and was a regular on highlight reels and plays of the week clips. He had a special package of power and speed that he used to the best of his abilities and was known for his hustle.
Sizemore’s style and the fact the Indians didn’t give him more rest caught up with him in 2009, where he only played 106 games and did not play up to his previous levels. He followed this up with two very short 2010 and 2011 seasons and missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. He was the Grady of old for April, 2011 before hurting himself again.
Sizemore is currently a free agent and he is unlikely to sign before the All Star Game as he is still rehabbing from a number of injuries. I don’t see the Indians re-signing him as they have a number of outfielders and I feel the front office wants to move on. He is currently this generation’s Pete Reiser, a player who played all-out everyday and could not stop running into walls and eventually broke down from injuries. It is up to Indians fans to keep Grady’s memory alive as players that had very small primes are usually forgotten over time. For example, a lot of scouts thought that Mike Trout was going to be like Grady Sizemore, that is how much he was revered when he was healthy and playing everyday.
I wish the best for Grady and that he is able to find a role where he can fit in as a left fielder somewhere and play everyday. I will remember the highlight reel catches, the use of his speed from the leadoff spot and how his power was maturing (33 HR in 2008). He is on the “could have been Hall of Famers except for injuries” all-star team and will always be one of my favorite Indians.
Do you have a Grady Sizemore memory? Does your team have a player with a similar story? Let us know in the comments below.