Kids watching baseball in 2015 may not know how special Grady Sizemore once was. Right now they see him as a guy coming off the bench for a lackluster Tampa Bay Rays team that has deployed nine different outfielders this year. After getting released from the Philadelphia Phillies on June 1, he joined the Rays just two weeks later on a minor league contract. In 34 games, Sizemore has hit six home runs and has driven in 13 runs for the fourth-place Rays. With a month-plus left in the Major League season, those six home runs are the most he’s hit since the 10 he hit in 2011, appearing in just 71 games. Sizemore was unable to stay on the field that year due to multiple knee injuries and a few other nagging injuries he was unable to fight off.
Going back a few years, the word injury was not in Grady Sizemore’s vocabulary. He was a horse — he played every day, all day, every out, and he was extremely durable for the Cleveland Indians. The worst part is, I say only a few years back, but it’s actually been six years since he has been able to play over 1oo games in a season. He once played 382 games in a row, which is impossible in present day Major League Baseball where every player has scheduled days off here and there. The streak began in 2006 and ended in 2008 when he sustained a minor ankle injury, an injury that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.
Little did Cleveland Indians fans know, this was just the beginning for their beloved center fielder. In 2009 it was a sports hernia, in 2010 it was knee surgery, and then again he was back on the disabled list with another surgery regarding a sports hernia in 2011. He did not play in in the Major Leagues again until he was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2014, where he was far from the player he used to be.
Let’s get into the positive stuff: the kind of great things the world of baseball saw before Grady Sizemore went on a downward, injury-riddled spiral. I already mentioned he had played 382 consecutive games. In those seasons he averaged over 20 home runs and 2o stolen bases. He was a force to be reckoned with at the top of the Indians lineup, in more ways than one. Even if he struck out quite a bit, he brought so much more to the table. He was an electric center fielder who won two Gold Glove awards and made three consecutive All-Star teams from 2006-2008. His best season arguably was in 2008 when he hit 33 home runs, drove in 90 runs, and swiped 38 bases. That year Sizemore played 157 games, followed by 106 games, 33, 71, 52, dare I go on.
Now, Sizemore sits at 33 years old, probably on his way out of Major League Baseball. All things considered, I believe he should be remembered as one of the greats during the time he was healthy. Sizemore’s career will be always be defined by the question, “What if?” That question aside, when he did stay on the field, Grady Sizemore was one of the best young power hitters in the game, and he should be remembered for it.