Size Him Right: Grady Sizemore Is Not A Top 5 Outfielder

How comfortable are you drafting Grady Sizemore?  Do you believe in his 2008 breakout, where he hit .268 with 33 HR, 90 RBI, 101 R and 38 SB?  Keep in mind that in that season, he set career highs in home runs, RBI and SB, numbers that he was nowhere near reaching in 2009, even if he hadn’t missed time:

436 At Bats
.248 Batting Average (108 Hits)
18 Home Runs
64 RBI
73 Runs
13 Stolen Bases
.343 On Base Percentage
.445 Slugging Percentage
.276 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The biggest knock against Sizemore, which is an extremely legitimate one, is his batting average.  While the .248 is an extreme, Sizemore is not notorious for hitting for a high average.  His career mark is .275 and his prior to years were:

  • 2007 – .277 in 628 AB
  • 2008 – .268 in 634 AB

Those are averages that aren’t going to kill you, but they certainly wouldn’t help you either, would they?  For a high round draft choice, I would like to at least have the potential for a helpful average, but with a strikeout rate consistently over 20% (22.2% for his career and his best mark is 20.5%), it’s just not there.

He hits too many balls in the air to maintain a good BABIP without getting extremely lucky.  Over the past four seasons he’s posted flyball rates of 46.9%, 46.6%, 45.7% and 47.6%.  That’s just not conducive to balls dropping in.

That does lead to power, but the 33 HR barrage he posted in 2008 sticks out like a sore thumb.  Look at his HR/FB rates:

  • 2006 – 11.8%
  • 2007 – 11.1%
  • 2008 – 14.5%
  • 2009 – 11.12%

Which of those numbers doesn’t belong?  Drafting him expecting a repeat of his 2008 home run campaign would be a huge mistake.  He’s just not likely to get there.

The same thing could be said about his 2008 RBI output, though if he drops to third in the order, he could come close.  The problem is, there’s no guarantee he stays there all season long (or even gets a look there at all).

What if Michael Brantley is the leadoff hitter in April and gets off to a slow start?  Would it surprise anyone to see the team shift Sizemore back to the leadoff spot, limiting his RBI opportunities?  Keep that in mind.

What he does bring to the table is speed.  From 2005-2008 he put up four consecutive 100 run seasons, including years of 134 and 118.  Those are elite numbers and while the Indians offense may not be what it once was, there are still plenty of bats waiting in the wings to bring him across the plate.  Guys like Shin-Soo Choo and Jhonny Peralta are going to get their RBI, meaning Sizemore should score plenty of runs once again.

He also should get his stolen bases.  While 38 was his career high, he’s also posted a year of 33 (2007).  The Indians clearly are not a team that is going to focus on the longball, so seeing them give players like Sizemore, even if hitting in the middle of the lineup, the green light should not be very surprising.

Let’s put that all together and take a look at what I’d project for him in 2010:

.270 (162-600), 25 HR, 75 RBI, 100 R, 30 SB, .311 BABIP, .373 OBP, .424 SLG

One problem is that everything I just said is dependent on Sizemore’s health.  He had surgery on his elbow last season, so you have to be concerned about his ability to recover.

I also would not value him as a potential 30/30 player, because I just don’t see the power being there.  Throw in some concerns about the average and Sizemore falls from being a Top Five outfielder on draft day.  He’s a borderline second round selection (though, one I’d avoid), but I’d be much more comfortable getting him early on in round number three.

What about you?  How good do you see Sizemore being in 2010?  Where would you target him?

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Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

11 comments

  1. Keith says:

    Sizemore was hurt in 2009 right? How can you rip on a guy who’s hurt all season for not putting up the previous year’s numbers? He’s 27 so he’s in his peak, there are like 3 good OF this year in Braun, Kemp and Holliday (and Holliday is only seen as good because of what he did after being traded from Oakland).

    Yes, Sizmore’s .268 average last year was awful but in 2008 he hit .277, in 2007 he hit .290 and in 2006 he hit .289. So clearly the .268 is an apparition. In between 2006 and 2008 his lowest OBP was .374 so he should be around 90 Runs. If he had any good hitters, literally any, he’d be a lock for 100 between his slugging percentage and speed on the bases. Yes his RBIs will be low because he is the only good hitter in the lineup so nobody will be on base when he comes up and he should always be walked. But I think the move of Martinez will force Sizemore into the 3 spot and if nobody is on base that gives him a green light to run.

    I’m a Tigers fan. I hate Sizemore. But he’s the 4th best OF in fantasy baseball this year. Who else is good in the OF this year? You either have 1 skill SB gurus (Crawford and Ellsbury) or an OF that hit around .250 (Granderson) or an OF that hits .330 but has no power and no RBIs (Suzuki). You can go with Justin Upton and he’ll get 15 more RBI and hit .20 points higher but he’ll score 20 less runs and steal 5-10 less bases. Plus his team is just as bad offensively and if Reynolds doesn’t hit like he did in 2009 then Upton won’t score as much. After Upton there’s his 10 HR 50 SB brother, 30 HR and 18 SB Werth or Jason Bay who has 2 strikes against him health wise already, bad knees and playing on the Mets. Also, his defense sucks and he’ll lose late game AB with the lead to a defensive replacement. I’d take a 25/30 guy over all of them especially when the 25 and 30 should be locks and he could get to 35/40 this year. 35 HR is just 2 above his 33 from 08 and 7 above 2006. His SB should easily go up from 38 in 2008 because now he doesn’t need to worry about running into an out like previous years. In fact Cleveland might depend on his SB to score runs.

    Ignore last year. His elbow was bad all year and he had surgery so it should be fixed for 2010.

  2. TY says:

    Keith- I’m a cleveland fan, great post on Grady, and I hope Grady Bounces back and has a big year. People need to remember a year ago he use to be a first rounder, now because he’s injured one year he’s lost so much value? I wouldn’t take him in the first or even the early second round, but mid to late (preferred) i say go for it and he could be a MONSTER steal at that point, huge value.

    There’s not too many 25/30sb’s OF’ers as it is, let alone ones that have 30/35 potential… Even if he does bat .260 he’s still a solid option. But the potential for him to bat .280 is there…

    All in all i like grady, but depending on where you can take him. His upside is huge, but dont overpay.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    TY, I agree with you that he could be a great value if you get him in the late second or early third.

    Keith, I’m not downgrading him simply because of his 2009 struggled because, as you said, he was injured. It’s just as much that I am not a believer of his 2008 year. As I mentioned in the article, the HR/FB rate is not in line with the rest of his career and, as you pointed out, he doesn’t have the best lineup surrounding him.

    I do have him at 25/30, so it’s not like I think he’s going to be awful, I just don’t see him as a Top 5 guy.

  4. MDS says:

    hating on a guy who played thru an injury?
    a 14% HR/FB is not a huge number that cannot be repeated
    he cut his season short, its not like he had surgery in september

  5. Michael Keneski says:

    I am on the fence with him. I have always liked him and will be very temted to take a short again in round 2.

  6. Dave says:

    Grady’s a top 5 OF in my OPS league for sure, with tons of walks and a solid slugging %. I think you’re greatly underestimating his SLG%. His career average is .485 and more like .496 in his 4 healthy seasons. The .424 you predicted would be his worst since his rookie callup back in ’04. Proven performer, should be healthy, prime of his career…I’m buying in any league, but especially OPS leagues.

  7. Rotoprofessor says:

    Dave, I would agree he’s more valuable in OPS leagues then standard 5×5 leagues.

    I’m curious, for those who are higher on Sizemore than I am, what kind of line are you expecting from him in 2010?

  8. TY says:

    25/25 and a .260 average FLOOR….

    with upside up 30/30+ and a .280 average….

    curtis granderson with much more upside…

  9. Rotoprofessor says:

    TY, it’s funny you compared him to Granderson, because someone else made the same comparison to me in an e-mail. Basically, that comparison makes it seem to me that he’s being drafted for upside more than anything else because I would never consider Granderson for the Top 5-10 outfielders.

    While I think Sizemore is a Top 10 guy (I have him ranked sixth, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that I am neglecting him), I’m not going to put him in the Top 5 on upside potential alone.

  10. MRT says:

    Granderson/Nelson Cruz/Jayson Werth – these guys are #15, #20, and #22, respectively, on your OF list. Though I see Sizemore with a little more upside than these guys, I think the value you are getting a few rounds later with these guys is greater. Each of these 3 have the potential for a 35/20+ season, with a limited average (.270ish), like Sizemore. Though i do agree i’d take Sizemore before each of these guys, the comparison isn’t as far off as most would think. Who would most of you pick between these 3 guys next?

  11. Rotoprofessor says:

    Just to further my comment…. As far as upside, I mean I’m not taking him expecting his ’08 season when his previous track record were numbers below that, especially in the HR & RBI departments.

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