Friday, April 6, 2007

Just How Good is Grady Sizemore?

Being a Red Sox fan, I've seen this song and dance before. Peter Gammons talking to someone or writing something about some uber-prospect who is going to take the world by storm and become the next Jimmie Foxx or Tony C. Gammo broke my heart with his overinflated hype of Tim Naehring, Phil Plantier and Mike Rozier, and to a lesser degree Tommy Hottovy, Charlie Zink and Izzy Alcantara (and if you polled the guys at SOSH, they could give you 100 more names). Those guys were supposed to be the core of the Sox for generations and it's likely that other than Alcantara (who received some notoriety for kicking a catcher in the face and then charging the mound as seen at about the :40 mark of this video), you've probably never heard of any of these guys. As much as I enjoy Gammo, he has a penchant for the overdoing it with the "hot young prospect angle." Probably why he's not a talent scout. So you can forgive me when I giggled after Gammo essentially labeled Cleveland's Grady Sizemore "the next big thing" in his column last year. That's pretty much the kiss of death. Gammo fell in love with Sizemore's five tools, his plate discipline, his aggressiveness in the outfield and his developing power (slugging percentage increased from .400 to .485). That's all well and good but what I saw was a guy in a decent lineup who plays with wreckless abandon in the outfield (aka an injury waiting to happen) and strikes out to much (132 K's compared to only 58 walks). It was clear he had potential but let's just say because Gammo had put the savior tag on him, I was a bit skeptical. Well, I was off. Way off.

In 2006, Grady Sizemore put together an absurd season. He raised his averages in every offensive category and of his 190 hits, almost half were for extra bases. He tied for the league lead in doubles with 53 and amongst centerfielders was behind only Beltran and Soriano in OPS and only Beltran had a higher OBP. He had 76 RBI AS A LEADOFF MAN FOR CLEVELAND. He was knocking in the likes of Ronnie Belliard and Jason Michaels. Did I mention that the kid put all of this together at the ripe old age of 23? He finished 11th in the AL MVP voting last year. He was the best centefielder the American League last year and arguably the overall best player in the league (if calculating defense were in anyway reliable). Grady Sizemore wasn't just good, he was perhaps the best young player in the American League.

The question then became, what did Grady Sizemore have left for 2007? Well Gammo--again--looked into his crystal ball and predicted that Sizemore would be the 2007 AL MVP. Not real good news for Sizemore as last year Gammo's choice was Bobby Crosby. So what does Grady do? He comes out and hits a home run in each of his first 3 games against an above-average White Sox staff and leads the Indians to a 2-1 record to start the season. And it's not just the stats but the way he plays. Do yourself a favor and watch this kid play. He drives the ball to all fields and crushes it when he hits it out. Even his outs are exciting because he's so quick out of the box. Gammo thought the kid could be a 30-30 guy this year. I think that's setting the bar too low. He could be 35-40, 100-100 guy with ease. If he was on a team in a better market, more people would be paying attention. Unfortunately, it's not 1995 anymore and Cleveland has a lot of work to do before they can assist in getting Grady the publicity he so rightly deserves. Well Grady, not sure if it helps, but I for one am a believer and will lead the Grady Sizemore bandwagon to its rightful place of prominence 12 readers at a time.

No comments: