The Cleveland Indians had a tremendous young talent that burst on the scene as a regular in 2005. He hit .289 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI’s as a 22-year-old that season.
The following year, he made his first all-star appearance at age 23. He totalled 92 extra base hits that season, hitting .290 with 28 dingers and 76 RBI’s. Among those extra base hits were a whopping 53 doubles. His OPS was 907.
If the Tribe had been in contention that season, instead of starting slowly and finishing 81-81, this 23-year-old OF quite possibly could have been the league MVP.
In the division winning season of 2007, he batted .277 with 24 homers and 77 RBI’s at age 24. He finished 12th in the MVP voting.
He batted .268 with 33 home runs and 90 ribbies in 2008.
However, the past two seasons have been filled with injuries, limiting this talented player to just 139 games those two seasons. And when he was in the lineup, he just wasn’t the same player.
Coming into this season, it seemed like Indian fans forgot how good he was before the injuries.
Then, Grady Sizemore rejoined the lineup on April 17th, homered in his second at bat, and reminded everyone what a great player he was from 2005-08.
Granted, we are talking about just 37 at bats this year, but already Sizemore has shown he appears to be the same player he was before his injuries.
He has ten extra base hits in those plate appearances, seven doubles and three home runs. That exceeds his total from last season, in which he had eight in 128 at bats.
In today’s society which focuses on what is happening now, it seems like everyone forgot that his guy is one of the best players in the American League.
Perhaps it is the woe is me attitude we have in Cleveland, and fans just figured Sizemore would never again get back to the level he showed as late as 2008, or maybe people tried to forget the centerfielder because he figured to be the next star player to be traded before he became a free agent.
Whatever the reason, we are seeing what a healthy Grady Sizemore can do.
And if the front office’s plan was to get him healthy so they could deal him at the trading deadline, the good start by Manny Acta’s crew has thrown a serious wrench into that idea.
There is no way they can make a trade of that magnitude as long as they are playing well. That is, if they ever want a fan to pay to get inside Progressive Field for a baseball game ever again.
That doesn’t mean Sizemore isn’t the next free agent to be GM Chris Antonetti has to deal with. He has a club option for 2012, which based on what we are seeing right now will surely be exercised. But he will be a free agent after next season, which means the trade rumors will be swirling.
We wrote that the best move would have been to talk to Sizemore in spring training about a one or two-year extension to basically make up for the lost years to injury. It would have been a gamble on the front office’s part, but they may have gotten a reduced price for the centerfielder’s service in 2013 and 2014.
However, if his production continue to resemble the guy who was one of the American League’s best players a few years ago, he will get a huge deal somewhere, probably not in Cleveland.
All that aside, enjoy the return of Grady Sizemore. He could be the biggest reason the Cleveland Indians are the biggest surprise of the 2011 baseball season.