With Grady Sizemore off to a slow start at the plate this season, there's a legitimate question whether the stud will turn things around, or see his season fall short of the lofty expectations surrounding it. Almost one quarter of the season has passed and Sizemore's triple-slash line (OBP/SLG/OPS) is not pretty: .302/.403/.704 through 179 plate appearances. Seven home runs and six steals provide help in fantasy standings, but being caught once for every successful steal is too poor a ratio.
His early struggles are partly due to his high strikeout rates. Sizemore is on pace to set a career high in strikeouts, and may approach 180, having missed forty one times already this season. Compounding the problem, his walk rate dropped from 13%to 10.7% over two consecutive seasons.
Grady is striking out so much because his contact percentage stands at a soft 79.3%, only improving to 86.8% on pitches in the strike zone. These are Sizemore’s worst rates since 2004, when he was twenty two and only played a fraction of the season. He’s swinging more than ever before too, which helps explain the low walk and high miss figures.
But, there is a silver lining. Grady's BABIP this season is only.252, a career low by nearly forty points. As long as this returns to a more normal level, Indian fans and owners can expect a rebound in runs, RBIs, HRs, and of course, his batting average. Sizemore’s line drive percentage of twenty one, supports the idea that he will turn things around at the dish.
He can also help his own cause by continuing to lay off pitches that are out of the strike zone, something that has been a strength so far this season; do his best to work the count and earn some more free passes. This will allow him to steal more, and force pitchers into hitters counts he can use to his advantage in the power department.
Grady Sizemore is a very good player, and despite his bad start, he is on pace to put up good but not great numbers for the Cleveland Indians. Taking account of a few bad signs, the numbers point to a turnaround, probably not an MVP charge. By the season’s end, 2009 will be a good year for the young All-Star.
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