If you're anything like me, you were kicking yourself last year for drafting Grady Sizemore in the first round of your fantasy draft.
The three-time All-Star was coming off of a 30-30 season in which he drove in 90 runs and scored over 100 times.
The sky was the limit—or so we thought.
Sizemore suffered through injuries throughout the summer, eventually being shut down in September.
He endured a stint on the DL earlier, upsetting the masses (Cleveland Indians fans and fantasy nerds alike) and clearly was considered one of the busts of last year's baseball season.
But the great thing about sports is there's always tomorrow, and Sizemore is a prime candidate for a bounce-back season.
Sizemore is not yet 28, the year many players reach their prime, so it is reasonable to expect another All-Star (maybe even an MVP) type season.
Let's first look at Sizemore's 2009 stat line:
AB: 436 R: 73 HR: 18 RBI: 64 SB: 13 BB: 60 K: 92 AVG: .248 OBP: .343 SLG: .445 OPS: .788
First off, his 436 at-bats were the lowest total since his 2004 rookie season, and Sizemore has been very durable over his career (600+ at-bats from 2005-2008).
That suggests last year's injuries are a bit of a fluke, and the young star should return to better, healthier days. Sizemore suffered through two nagging injuries last year (elbow and abdomen) and had corrective surgery on both during the off season.
But two things stand out about Grady's 2009 campaign: the alarming decline in stolen bases (13) and the equally alarming amount of strikeouts (92).
Of course, it's easy to expect less stolen bases when you're playing in less games, but only 13?
He had 38 in 2008, which was even better than his 2007 season of 33.
Elbow problems wouldn't hinder his running ability, but he obviously wasn't 100% right everywhere else.
If Sizemore plays his typical 160 games this year, expect his stolen bases to jump back into the 25-30 range.
Now, let's address those strikeouts.
It's no secret that Sizemore is a strikeout target (130+ from 2005-2008), but he nearly reached 100 K's last year in his injury-shortened season, where he missed well over 50 games.
Maybe he was trying to do too much for a depleted Indians roster, or maybe his injuries prevented him from being comfortable at the plate.
Whatever the reason is, Sizemore could benefit from dropping to the No. 2 hole this season for Cleveland.
Batting behind Asdrubal Cabrera, Sizemore won't feel the pressure of having to get on base nearly as much and can be more selective with his pitches.
With Shin-Soo Choo hitting behind Sizemore, he'll likely get plenty of good at-bats in 2010.
Last year's .248 batting average is also alarming, but all signs point to bad luck in that department for Sizemore.
His .316 career BAbip overshadows last year's .275 mark—his lowest as a major leaguer.
His BAbip should increase over the .300 range with better luck, and that will increase his batting average into the .260-.280 range.
One good thing about Sizemore's 2009 season was that his power was still there.
He managed 18 bombs despite the bumps and bruises—signs of life indeed for Grady.
Provided Sizemore returns to full health, 2010 will be a return of form for Grady Sizemore.
Players with his immense talent simply do not fade away in their mid-20's—they only get better and better.
When drafting your fantasy baseball teams later this month, do not forget about Grady Sizemore.
Other teams will snatch up Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, and Carl Crawford, but you can probably grab Sizemore in the third round of some drafts.
If you're lucky enough to do so, you'll be getting a first-round talent in the third/fourth round.
It's time to doop your buddies and downplay Sizemore; call him washed up, a bum, an injury-plagued bust.
Just don't forget to call his name when you're filling out your fantasy lineup.
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