There was a news item today that the Indians restored Grady Sizemore (and Carlos Santana) from the 60 day DL. The move was procedural though as all teams have to clean out their disabled lists and declare a formal 40 man roster. Those left off the roster risk exposing players to the Rule V Draft. But the story indicates that the Indians are hopeful that Sizemore will be ready to start the season. That, if indeed true, would be wonderful. Sizemore has been missed as he was one of the most exciting players in baseball.
For four seasons from 2005 to 2008, Sizemore put up gaudy numbers and with a superlative mixture of offense, defense and base running, averaged a 6.1 WAR for the Indians. In 2006, he hit 53 doubles, added 28 homers and 11 triples. He scored 134 runs that season and also stole 22 bases. He did it all while manning his position in the outfield as one of the best. His season was a big part of the Indians' surge to 90+ wins.
The following season, he had less extra base hits, but upped his stolen base total to 33, and walked 101 times. He scored 112 runs that season. In 2008, he joined a still pretty exclusive 30-30 club as he hit 33 homers, added 39 doubles and reached a career best 38 stolen bases. Sizemore also walked 98 times.
But 2008 saw the start of his long battle with injuries. It was the first time he didn't play all 162 games. His outfield defense wasn't quite as sharp as the previous three seasons. His batting average went down. 2009 continued the trend as he only managed to appear in 109 games. All of his offensive and defensive numbers were down when the plug was finally pulled on his season.
And then 2010 was a total losss for Sizemore. He only appeared in 33 games and he didn't hit. He didn't walk He stole very few bases. Again, his season ended early and he underwent micro fracture surgery on his knee. Sizemore has had a half a dozen operations in the past two years and one has to wonder if all the king's horses and all the king's men can put Sizemore together again. Sizemore's woes coincide with the Indians' woes. They went from a 90+ win team to a 90+ loss team. Of course, you can't pin that totally on Sizemore's injuries. Travis Hafner is just a shell of what he once was. Sabathia and Lee are gone and even when they bring an all-world prospect like Santana up, he gets seriously injured after 46 games.
But it's more than that. The Indians have also lost attendance in significant chunks. Sizemore was the golden boy, good looking, young and exciting. He gave the Cleveland fans a thrill on a regular basis and despite all those other players, he was the major draw. Perhaps if Sizemore can come back and the Indians can improve their level of play, fans in down-trodden Cleveland will come back to the ball park again.
Talents like Sizemore don't come along very often. His combination of speed, power, agility and style made him one of the elite players in baseball. When a guy like that has two seasons of injury purgatory, everyone loses, especially the fans. Baseball and Cleveland need Sizemore to return to some of his former glory. May it be so this year.