Center Fielder, 2004-2011
Height: 6'2" Weight: 200 lbs
Throws: Left Bats: Left
Left Via: Free Agent, October 29, 2012
Even though Grady Sizemore did not have the long Hall of Fame career he was on a career path for, the seasons he did have was more than enough to get him to this spot on the countdown.
Sizemore was born on August 2, 1982 to an accountant, Donna, and an insurance adjustor, Grady II. Although his birthplace was Seattle, he grew up in Everett, Washington, just 30 minutes to the north. Grady's career might have been preordained as his father had a decent career in college. His baseball career started even earlier than most when his parents handed him a Fat Albert bat at just 18 months old. His ballplayer genes shone through because his grip and stance looked almost perfect from the start. By age four, Grady was swinging an aluminum bat and making contact with overhand pitches.
With that type of athletic prowess at a young age, it is no complete surprise that Grady was a star in any sport that he played. He played all three of the major sports at Cascade High School (baseball, football and basketball). He was such a dominant football player, that when he graduated in 2000, he left as the school's greatest quarterback ever, owned the most rushing yards and interceptions in school history. He was recruited heavily by Cal, Arizona State and the University of Washington. Coach Rick Neuheisel convinced him to sing a letter of intent and Grady was going to be the Huskies next quarterback and also play baseball in college.
Shortly after football season, Grady had a fantastic senior season in baseball as well. He hit .457 with seven homers, 20 RBI and 24 steals. At 6'-2", 200 pounds and with a 4.5 second 40 yard dash time, his stock rocketed on many MLB teams draft boards. But with him already signing a letter of intent, it was going to take a huge commitment to get him to bypass college. He lasted until the third round when the Montreal Expos selected him 75th overall (just nine picks after the Tribe's selection of Mark Folsom). The Expos offered him a $2 million signing bonus to Neuheisel's dismay.
Sizemore took the cash and headed off the Expos Gulf Coast League rookie squad. He slashed a 293/380/376 in 236 plate appearances, stole 16 while only getting caught twice. He did flash much power (8 doubles, 3 triples, 1 homer), but moved up to the Midwest League (A) in 2001. As a Clinton Lumberking, his slash dipped to a 268/381/335. But this was also a two level jump as he bypassed A- completely. His power was still lacking (16 doubles, 4 triples, 2 homers), but he stole 32 bases and showed enough plate discipline (81 walks) to earn another promotion the next season.
In 2002, he moved up to the Expos A+ affiliate, the Brevard County Manatees (Melbourne, FL) in the Florida State League. But Sizemore was caught unawares when he was involved in one the biggest trade heist of all time. That season, there was serious discussion regarding contraction and the Expos were a prime target. Even though they might be contracted, the Expos sat in second place, about five games back of the Braves in mid-June.
Montreal happened to play a three game set June 21-23. At that point general Omar Minaya chatted up Mark Shapiro as the Expos were starting Masato Yoshii and LGFT Zach Day in their rotation. Figuring he had nothing to lose, Minaya dealt three of his top prospects (Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips) along with Lee Stevens to Shapiro for ace Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew on June 27.
Sizemore reported to the Kinston Indians (Carolina Leagus-A+). His work with Ted Kubiak and the staff worked wonders as his slash improved from 258/351/348 to 343/451/483 in about two thirds of the plate appearances.
In 2003, Grady headed to the Akron Aeros in AA in the Eastern League and his power finally become apparent. He slashed 304/373/480 with 26 doubles, 11 triples and 13 home runs, driving in 78. The Aeros won the Eastern League that season under manager Brad Komminsk. After the season, Sizemore was selected to be part of Team USA under Frank Robinson for the Olympic qualifiers. He hit .442 with 12 runs and seven RBI in just 13 games, but the USA lost to Mexico and failed to reach the Olympics.
His breakout season earned him the #9 ranking by Baseball America heading into 2004. He had a fantastic spring training, but the outfield was set with Matt Lawton, Coco Crisp and Jody Gerut, so he headed off to Buffalo for more seasoning. He hit 287/360/438 as a 21 year old there and was called up in July. He debuted on July 21 and played virtually every day through the end of the season, holding his own with a 246/333/406 slash.
With the departure of Lawton in the offseason, it looked like Grady would be a starter from the get go in 2005. However, in January, Shapiro inked Juan Gonzalez to return to Cleveland for another go round. He severely injured his hamstring just before opening day. And instead of playing in Buffalo or riding the pine, Grady became the everyday centerfielder. In mid-May, he replaced Crisp as the leadoff hitter. He finished the season with a 289/348/484 123 OPS+ line, hitting 37 doubles, 11 triples, 22 homers, 111 runs scored, 81 RBI and stealing 22 bags. Those numbers produced only the second ever 20/10/20/20 line (with Roberto Alomar) in Tribe history.
Had he not burned his rookie status, he would have made the Rookie of the Year voting interesting with both Huston Street and Robinson Cano. As it was, he finished 23rd in MVP voting and hadn't even reached his age 23 season yet. Even though he wasn't anywhere close to arbitration, Shapiro locked him up through the 2011 season with a six year deal for $24M, a landmark deal at the time.
He continued his dominance in 2006, improving his eye and power with a 290/375/533 133 OPS+ line, leading the league with 134 runs scored and 53 doubles. He also had 11 triples, 28 homers, 22 steals (to match his 2005 20/10/20/20 season) and 76 RBI. He made the All-Star team and finished 11th in MVP voting. His 2007 was another season of eye-popping numbers. He hit 277/390/462 123 OPS+, 118 runs scored, 34 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers, 76 RBI and 33 steals. He made the All-Star game again, finished 12th in MVP voting and nabbed his first Gold Glove. He even made the cover of Sports Illustrated in May of that season.
In the postseason that year, he wore out the Yankee pitching staff in the Division series, hitting 375/524/688 and leading off Game 4 with a home run in the clincher. He didn't do nearly as well in the Championship Series, just like many of his teammates.
In 2008, Grady dominated again by becoming a 30/30 man, only the second in Tribe history (Joe Carter in 1987 was the first). He hit 268/374/502 (133 OPS+), 39 doubles, 33 home runs, and 39 steals. He duplicated his award haul from 2007, moving up to 10th in MVP and also added a Silver Slugger. There was much talk about how he was the best centerfielder in the AL (against Curtis Granderson, and perhaps in all of baseball. The future looked very bright for this 25 year old and a path to Cooperstown could be seen in the distance. His three year average from 2006 to 2008 was 279/380/499 (130 OPS+), 118 runs scored, 42 doubles, 7 triples, 28 home runs, 81 RBI and 31 stolen bases.
Heading to spring training in 2009, Grady was slated to be part of the USA's squad in the World Baseball Classic. But he injured his left groin in spring training and decided to forgo the tournament. He recovered to play Opening Day, but struggled mightily for the first ten games or so. One bright spot was becoming the first player to hit a grand slam in the new Yankees digs on April 16. His OPS peaked at 991 on April 19, but by the end of May was down 726. He went on the DL in response to a strained left elbow. He returned on June 23, and was able to have a decent July, pushing his OPS up close to 800, but never surpassing it.
When September rolled around and it was evident the Tribe's season was done, Grady first had surgery on his left elbow and then a week later, he had hernia surgery that was somewhat related to the groin injury from back in spring training. The hope was by getting the surgeries done prior to the season's end, he would be able to be ready for spring training.
Grady made it through spring training and to Opening Day, but hit very poorly that April and May because of a left knee issue that happened in Arizona. He was hitting only 208/270/288 with no home runs on May 15. He injured his knee in Baltimore and was placed on the 15 day DL with a bone bruise. On June 1, he had exploratory surgery to determine the actual injury in the knee, and was transferred to the 60 day DL. The surgery revealed that he needed a microfracture procedure to occur and that ended his 2010 season.
He was not quite ready to start the 2011 season, so Sizemore headed off to Columbus for 2 games of rehab. He went 2 for 8 with a home run and was activated on April 17. On May 10, he was hitting 282/333/641 and looked a lot like the Grady of old, but after sliding into second base that day, he had a another bone contusion on his right knee and spent 15 days on the DL. He didn't look the same after returning though. He made it to mid-July at 237/304/466 and sat out until September with another sports hernia.
As the team held a team option on him for $9 million and he had missed serious time in the previous three seasons, they declined the option. Sizemore had brief talks with both the Red Sox and Mariners, but eventually signed back with Cleveland on a one year, $5 million deal with another $4 million in incentives. But early in spring training his back gave out and he had back surgery (micro discectomy to be exact), opening the season on the 60 day DL. He had a number of setbacks in his comeback attempts and ended up having microfracture surgery on the right knee in September.
He didn't bother negotiating with anybody for the 2013 season as Grady would be recovering all year. The early prognosis was that he could be ready by mid-2014. The Tribe is interested in bringing him back, but it would almost certainly be on a minor league deal with some incentives added in.
Indians Career Stats
- AL All-Star: 2006, 2007, 2008
- AL MVP: 10th, 2008; 11th, 2006; 12th, 2007; 23rd, 2005
- AL Gold Glove: 2007, 2008
- AL Silver Slugger: 2008
- AL WAR: 2nd, 2006-6.6; 5th, 2005-6.6; 9th, 2008-5.9
- AL WAR Position Players: 1st, 2006-6.6; 4th, 2005-6.6; 5th, 2008-5.9; 10th, 2007-5.5
- AL oWAR: 2nd, 2006-6.6; 3rd, 2008-6.1; 7th, 2005-5.6; 8th, 2007-5.8
- AL Plate Appearances: 1st, 2007-748; 2nd, 2006-751; 2nd, 2008-745; 8th, 2005-706
- AL Runs Scored: 1st, 2006-134; 4th, 2007-118; 9th, 2005-111; 10th, 2008-101
- AL Hits: 7th, 2006-190
- AL Total Bases: 2nd, 2006-349; 6th, 2008-318; 9th, 2005-310
- AL 2B: 1st, 2006-53
- AL 3B: 2nd, 2006-11; 3rd, 2005-11
- AL Home Runs: 6th, 2008-33
- AL Bases On Balls: 3rd, 2008-98; 5th, 2007-101
- AL Strikeouts: 2nd, 2007-155; 3rd, 2006-153; 4th, 2005-132
- AL Stolen Bases: 5th, 2008-38; 6th, 2007-33
- AL RC: 1st, 2008-131; 2nd, 2006-140; 6th, 2007-126
- AL Extra Base Hits: 1st, 2006-92; 2nd, 2008-77; 10th, 2005-70
- AL Hit By Pitch: 4th, 2006-13; 5th, 2007-17; 7th, 2008-11
- AL Intentional Bases On Balls: 3rd, 2008-14
- AL Caught Stealing: 2nd, 2007-10; 5th, 2005-10; 10th, 2009-8
- AL SB %: 4th, 2008-83.37
- AL WPA: 7th, 2008-3.7; 8th, 2006-3.4
- AL Putouts as CF: 1st, 2006-409; 2nd, 2008-382; 4th, 2005-373; 5th, 2007-399
- AL Assists as CF: 3rd, 2006-7
- AL Double Plays Turned as CF: 5th, 2008-1
- AL Fielding Percentage as 2B: 2nd, 2008-.995; 3rd, 2007-.995; 4th, 2005-.992; 4th, 2006-.993
- AL Range Factor/Game as CF: 3rd, 2006-2.60; 3rd, 2009-2.83
Cleveland Indians Career Leader
- 20th WAR Position Players (27.6)
- 17th oWAR (28.1)
- 45th On Base Percentage (.357)
- 19th Slugging (.473)
- t-23rd OPS (.830)
- 42nd Games Played (892)
- 33rd At Bats (3527)
- 30th Plate Appearances (4047)
- 22nd Runs Scored (601)
- 37th Hits (948)
- 24th Total Bases (1667)
- 20th Doubles (216)
- 24th Triples (43)
- 13th Home Runs (139)
- t-30th Runs Batted In (458)
- t-23rd Bases On Balls (430)
- 4th Strikeouts (816)
- 15th Stolen Bases (134)
- 50th Singles (550)
- t-29th OPS+ (120)
- 19th Runs Created (636)
- 15th Extra Base Hits (398)
- t-4th Hit By Pitch (65)
- 47th Sacrifice Flies (17)
- 9th Intentional Bases On Balls (34)
- 22nd Caught Stealing (43)
- 23rd Win Probability Added (7.1)
Cleveland Indians Season Leader
- t-38th WAR (6.6, 2005, 2006)
- t-26th oWAR (6.6, 2006)
- t-40th oWAR (6.1, 2008)
- t-50th oWAR (5.8, 2007)
- 5th At Bats (655, 2006)
- t-12th At Bats (640, 2005)
- 19th At Bats (634, 2008)
- 24th At Bats (628, 2007)
- 1st Plate Appearances (751, 2006)
- 2nd Plate Appearances (748, 2007)
- 4th Plate Appearances (745, 2008)
- t-23rd Plate Appearances (706, 2005)
- 5th Runs Scored (134, 2006)
- 21st Runs Scored (118, 2007)
- t-31st Runs Scored (111, 2005)
- 43rd Hits (190, 2006)
- 11th Total Bases (349, 2006)
- 27th Total Bases (318, 2008)
- t-32nd Total Bases (310, 2005)
- 3rd Doubles (53, 2006)
- t-23rd Home Runs (33, 2008)
- t-13th Bases On Balls (101, 2007)
- t-21st Bases On Balls (98, 2008)
- 5th Strikeouts (155, 2007)
- 6th Strikeouts (153, 2006)
- t-23rd Strikeouts (132, 2005)
- 26th Strikeouts (130, 2008)
- t-21st Stolen Bases (38, 2008)
- t-39th Stolen Bases (33, 2007)
- 18th Runs Created (140, 2006)
- t-29th Runs Created (131, 2008)
- 36th Runs Created (126, 2007)
- 3rd Extra Base Hits (92, 2006)
- t-15th Extra Base Hits (77, 2008)
- t-38th Extra Base Hits (70, 2005)
- t-3rd Hit By Pitch (17, 2001)
- t-16th Hit By Pitch (13, 2006)
- t-26th Hit By Pitch (11, 2008)
- t-8th Intentional Bases On Balls (14, 2008)
- t-37th Intentional Bases On Balls (9, 2007)
- t-49th Intentional Bases On Balls (8, 2006)
- t-42nd Win Probability Added (3.7, 2008)
- t-45th Win Probability Added (3.4, 2006)
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