Grady Sizemore isn’t a Yankee, but he has recently been connected to the club. His agent, Joe Urbon said he’ll suspend talks with interested clubs until Sizemore is closer to 100% after surgery to repair a microfracture in his knee. The left-handed centerfielder was a fixture in the Cleveland Indians organization and was one of baseball’s very best players during the mid-00’s. As with many athletes, injuries can foil a promising career and that’s exactly what happened with Sizemore. Yankees will undoubtedly deal with injuries of their own, unfortunately, so does Sizemore warrant a flyer come midseason?
Before we answer that question, let’s delve into some numbers to see if he’s worthy, injury-bug notwithstanding. The 30-year-old outfielder raked between 2005-2008. He was an all-star caliber player and an MVP candidate who could hit, run, and field. Arguably his best year came in 2006 where he hit .290/.375/.533 (132 wRC+) with 28 home runs, 76 RBIs, 122 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. He also had a monster season in 2008, hitting .268/.374/.502 (131 wRC+) with 33 home runs, 90 RBI, 101 runs scored, and 38 stolen bases. It was at this point Yankees dared to dream.
However, after a slightly above average 2009, Sizemore was bitten by the injury bug. He’s only had 435 plate appearances over the last three seasons. Take a minute and read that last sentence again. That’s basically being out of baseball a full two years, which will damage anybody’s worth as a ballplayer. He’s tried numerous returns, but they’ve been thwarted by back and knee problems, which zapped any value he had.
During 2011, he played in 71 games and looked like a shell of his former self (.224/.285/.422 and 93 wRC+). While he flashed some power (10 HRs in 295 PAs or .198) he couldn’t run the base paths like he once did (0 SBs). Adding to it, his fielding numbers plummeted. In 2006 he recorded a 12.9 UZR/150, but by 2011, he would hit a career low (-5.8).
His strikeout totals also increased with each passing year. At the height of his career (2008) he was averaging a ~19% K% and a great walk rate (~11%), but since, both have jumped in the wrong direction. In 2011, his strikeout rate increased by nearly 10%, and his walk rate was cut nearly in half.
He’s a replacement level player at this point in his career and doesn’t warrant much of a look from the Yankees because of it. Unless the team is really hurting for outfield help, they should not take a flyer on him. 1. It’s a waste of a 40-man spot, 2. He hasn’t proven he’s overcome the injury bug, 3. The Yankees have options internally who can presumably offer the same type of production. Sorry Sizemore, you’re going to have to look elsewhere for work.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs