Grady Sizemore's 2008 season is even more ridiculous than you remember
Grady Sizemore was just 25 years old (today he turns 36), but he was already one of the best players in baseball entering 2008. Sent to Cleveland in that historic Bartolo Colon trade, here's how his first three full Major League seasons had gone: two All-Star nods, one Gold Glove Award, 74 homers, 77 steals, a 23rd-, 12th- and 11th-place finish in AL MVP voting. He wasn't just the future of the Indians, he was the future of baseball -- an athlete that made us reimagine what a leadoff hitter and a center fielder could be. And then, somehow, he went out and got even better ... at everything.
We really don't mean that as hyperbole. If there was something to do on a baseball field, 2008 Sizemore could do it -- and do it better than just about anyone else. We've got the highlights to prove it.
Sizemore's game started with his speed. He wasn't just fast for a slugger, or fast enough to get by in center field. He was fast, period -- swiping a career-high 38 bases (good for 10th-most in baseball) while being thrown out just five times.
That speed also helped him go get it with the best of them in the outfield. Sizemore won his second Gold Glove Award in 2008, and at times it seemed physically impossible to get a ball by him, whether in front ...
... or behind:
Of the nine players who stole more bases than Sizemore in 2008, none hit more than 16 homers. Sizemore, on the other hand, hit 33 -- again a career high -- a lot of which were absolute moonshots. (Keep in mind that this is one of the best defensive center fielders and baserunners in the Majors hitting one two-thirds of the way up the foul pole.)
Amazingly, though, Sizemore didn't have to sell out to tap into that power. He kept the same, line-drive stroke at all times, and could drive the ball to all fields and in all counts:
Little did we know at the time that 2008 would represent the high-water mark of Sizemore's career. Knee injuries turned him into a shadow of the player he once was. But before we go back to gawking at the current crop of stereotype-busting, multipositional, do-everything stars, take a moment to remember the guy who helped pave the way.