Welcome back to this running series on the Cleveland Indians titled, "The Problem," where we examine one issue surrounding the current club. Although there is probably more than one problem with the Indians, you have to fix one issue at a time.
Today's problem involves the club's biggest star, Grady Sizemore, and the lack of power production. Not only has the power not been there, Sizemore hasn't even been getting on base as much as the Indians had hoped.
Sizemore's success is crucial to the Indians' success offensively, so it isn't any surprise that Cleveland is near the bottom in many offensive categories in all of baseball.
Where is the answer to Sizemore's power failure? Can we find a solution to ignite a Sizemore power surge?
Victor Martinez is gone, Travis Hafner is no longer the MVP-caliber hitter he was a few years ago, and a lot of the other familiar names are no longer familiar names.
But Grady Sizemore, he's the guy in his prime. He was and is supposed to be the lifeblood of this team's offensive order, regardless of where he hits.
He was supposed to be a perennial MVP candidate since 2008, but so far, his numbers have only gone down year-by-year. The worst of it was in 2009, when he struggled with injuries and time spent on the disabled list for an extended period of time.
Most assumed 2009's production was because of those injuries, and that 2010 would be the year he got himself back on track.
Grady Sizemore has been off to a horrendous start this season at the plate, and it is mighty puzzling. Last year, Sizemore battled injuries to his midsection and elbow, and both led to surgery before the season even ended.
Sizemore ended up being 100 percent healthy for spring training, and even put on a performance that made Mark Shapiro say it was the best he's ever seen Sizemore swing the bat.
If we can conclude that the injuries don't seem to be the issue for his lack of power and overall lack of production, what can we conclude?
Sizemore was moved down a slot to the two-hole, in an effort to give him more RBI opportunities, and some have even suggested the move has been the reason for his struggles.
If that is true, it would be purely mental. Who really knows if that is the case or not—only Sizemore knows.
Grady Sizemore's Past Five Seasons
I used to say that his drop in average doesn't matter as long as his on-base percentage isn't drastically dropping. Well, now it's dropping—drastically.
His 2007 season was an MVP year, but it was probably abnormally high. However, 2008 measures comparably to 2006 in terms of OBP, despite a moderate change in batting average.
Grady Sizemore's 2010 Left/Right Splits
|vs RHP as LHB||70||21||6||2||0||11||6||18||.300||.351||.443||.794|
|vs LHP as LHB||46||5||0||0||0||1||3||14||.109||.196||.109||.305|
Shockingly Sizemore has actually been killer on right-handed hitters this season, as all but one RBI have come off a right-hander and all his extra-base hits have as well. The home run that did not count against Detroit came off a right-hander as well, Jeremy Bonderman.
He can't even hit left-handers period, but one thing that doesn't change whether or not he's facing right or left-handed pitching is his strikeout rate. Against the left-handers, he's striking out every 3.2 at-bats. Against right-handers, it's 3.8.
Grady Sizemore's 2010 Hit Location
As you can see from his hit location numbers, Sizemore has not been going the other way with much success, if at all. He's just got two hits to the opposite field, but hey, shocker, they're both doubles!
Let's see how he's done in previous years, as far as pulling and going the opposite way.
In case you can't believe your eyes, no, Grady Sizemore has not hit an opposite field home run in the past four season. In fact, he's only go one in his entire career, which is saying something.
Jhonny Peralta has 13 career opposite field home runs. How can someone like Sizemore only have one? Probably because he's a pull hitter. He murders the ball when he pulls it—that's a fact and it always has been.
Grady Sizemore Batting Second
Percentage of at-bats with runners on base
Sizemore 2010: 43 percent
Sizemore 2009: 40 percent
Sizemore 2008: 38 percent
Cabrera 2010: 29 percent
Cabrera 2009: 45 percent
How interesting is that? The increase in opportunities so far has been minimal, but still, his opportunities with runners on have gone up. Last year would indicate that Cabrera did get more opportunities to hit with runners on base.
I don't think there is a solution that you can just initiate. There is no real answer to this, because simply put, Grady Sizemore is in a slump.
Injuries are not an issue, so this isn't a disabled list situation. Is there anything wrong with his swing? Most people around the club that have been asked this question haven't really been able to see anything wrong.
He's just in a slump.
That's all we can really deduct from the numbers. The scope of the other numbers here suggest a bigger problem though. Grady Sizemore has become a slugger.
He has gone from all around good-hitter and high-on-base guy to a pull-hitter who only has successful power numbers when he tries to pull the ball. He has enormous success when doing so, but as we've seen this season and even last year, he isn't even doing that.
What's the reason for the percentages of at-bats with runners on base?
I just wanted to see and compare the move that Acta made. While it is only a month and a half, there only is an increase in three percent in terms of how many at-bats Sizemore is getting with men on.
Even then, he's knocked in 12 runs this year, which is good enough for fourth on this team. With runners on base, he's hit .280, which isn't horrible.
Heck, it is way better than his actual season average, but it still isn't what the Indians are expecting from him, especially now that he's in a position to get more RBI opportunities.
There may be no solution that the Indians can initiate, so it is all up to Grady Sizemore.
He has to work with Jon Nunnally if his hitting coach sees something wrong, but from what it would look like, there is nothing wrong mechanically.
So, if it's all upstairs, he has to get out of his own head.
I'm sure it did nothing for his confidence to see that home run he hit taken away from him because when he steps into the batters box. He still sees that big ugly zero staring back at him.
The Indians need Grady Sizemore though, especially if they are going to turn things around offensively, and be the offensive threat we think they can be.