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Grady Sizemoreís Bright Future
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
December 30, 2008

In case you havenít realized it yet, Iím a big fan of Grady Sizemore. In fact, I am secretly a member of Gradyís Ladies. All I had to do was change the Y in my name to an I to make my name look more feminine (just kidding). So if you must, you can take the following article with a grain of salt.

To traditionalists, Sizemore had a good, but not great year. He had a .268 BA, struck out over 100 times, and failed to knock in 100 runs. But if you examine his stats properly, he had a great year. As a matter of fact, he might have been the best player in American League, with Joe Mauer and A-Rod right there as well. How is this true? Well, lets take a look.

If youíre a Baseball Evolution veteran, you probably know that when analyzing offensive value, I tend to favor Pete Palmerís Batting Runs. I recently have used his Batting Wins, rather than simply dividing his ABR by 10, because the wins adjust for the run context in which the player performed. Sizemoreís 2008 score comes out to 3.3 wins when you include his SB and CS numbers.

Next is his defense. Whether you subscribe to the sabermetric train of thought or not, you cannot deny that Sizemore is a great fielder. My metric of choice is ultimate zone rating. UZR is similar to the  +/- system by John Dewan that Keith happens to be very fond of. However, instead using plays, UZR translates the plays into runs. According to UZR Sizemore was worth +11 runs, or in other words, 1.1 wins.

The last step in evaluating Sizemoreís value to his team is applying a positional adjustment. My views on PADJís have slightly changed recently, but I will explain that sometime this week. The adjustment for centerfielders is 2.5 runs, or in other words .25 wins per 150 games. Add this all up, and Sizemore is worth 4.7 wins above average, which is great.

Despite Sizemore already looking like one of the best players in the game, he still appears to be improving for a myriad of reasons, and we may see a breakout (as if he isnít good enough already) season as early as 2009. One of the reasons why this is evident is because since 2005, he has improved on something every year.

In 2006, his second full season, his BB% shot up over 3%. He also saw a spike in his FB rate by 16% leading to an increase in his HR total by 6.   He also stole bases at a better rate, jumping from 66% to 78%.

In 2007, Sizemore swiped 11 more bags while his rate only dropped by two percent. He also continued to walk more, increasing his rate by over 3% again. However, Sizemore continued to strike out a ton, and saw a decrease in his HR total by four.

In 2008, Sizemore seemed to have put it all together, but somehow posted a career low batting average of .268. His BB rate dropped, but was still above 13%. His FB% stagnated, but hit a career high 33 HR, which is a sign that he is developing power. He also stole a career high of 38 bags, while only getting caught five times. Sizemore also improved upon his biggest weakness: striking out. He cut his K% by 4%, which lead to a career high .75 K/BB ratio. So, if it seems that Sizemore has honed his skills, why would he post a career low batting average? The only plausible reason is poor luck. A quick look at his batting average on balls in play backs up this claim. He had never posted a BABIP below .330 in a full season before posting a .291 mark this past season. Usually a playerís BABIP correlates well with their LD%. Gradyís LD% did decrease in 2008, but only by 1.3%. Such a small drop does not explain Sizemoreís 43 point drop in his BABIP.

Another reason to believe Sizemoreís upward trend will continue is where he is in his career path. When the 2009 season begins, Sizemore will still be 26 years old; he will turn 27 in August. It's conventional wisdom that a player usually enters their prime at age 27, and men usually peak in strength in their late 20s, so a power surge is not out of the question.

For now, it looks like everything is lined up perfectly. He cut down on strikeouts while keeping his walks up, he has improved on the base paths, and his power numbers are there. If his BABIP rises back up to his career average of .324, there is no doubt in my mind that Sizemore will have a career year.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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