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Down’Grady’ing The Tribe Lineup:
Why Dropping Sizemore in the lineup would benefit the Indians.
By: Brian Belko
As this Indian’s season has gotten under way, fans have found no shortage of things to complain about. From the bullpen and the defense, to the offensive lifeline that is the lineup, the Tribe has many areas that need improvement. Watching Cliff Lee pitch one run baseball and get no runs in support really points to the offense as a problem that needs to be corrected. As can be seen by the methods of manager Eric Wedge, the main way to try and squeeze more runs from your lineup is to shuffle the order around. However, the problem is that Wedge has missed one of the most sure fire ways to amplify the lineup. That move would be dropping current lead-off hitter Grady Sizemore down in the lineup. Not only would this move give Grady more RBI opportunities, but it would also give him better pitches to hit when the players in front of him get on base.
As his career has blossomed, Grady has become more and more of a power hitter. His homerun numbers prove this, increasing from 22 in 2005, his first full season, to 33 last year. This increase in homeruns illustrates the power that Sizemore truly has. Yet even with this homerun increase, his RBI production has remained mostly unchanged. The season that he hit 22 dingers, Grady drove in 81 runs. One would think that this RBI number would go up significantly with the addition of eleven more homeruns to his stat line. However, his RBI total only increased by nine. Had he been batting in the third or fourth position during that season, his RBI total would have been much higher. This just goes to show that a move down in the order would both benefit Grady’s stats and the Indians team as a whole.
There are several possible replacements for the lead-off spot that are currently on the Tribe’s roster. These players include Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin Soo Choo and Jamey Carrol. All three of those players have speed and the ability to get on base. Something that Grady has not done with any consistency this season. They are all also capable of stealing bases and driving in runs when the opportunity arises. Although I would be comfortable seeing anyone of those players batting lead-off, I would most like to see Choo get a chance. He is second on the team in on-base percentage, second only to Victor Martinez. He is also perfect in stolen base attempts and has some pop in his bat. Choo can also lay down a bunt and gets down the line well. On the days that Carrol gets a start, I would put Choo back down in the lineup and stick Jamey in the one hole. This gives Wedge some versatility in giving players days off and still having a productive lineup.
It is also important to plug Grady into the correct spot in the lineup once he is dropped down. A great spot for him to hit would be the three hole. That way, he still gets an at-bat in the first inning, but is protected by whoever is in front of him. That spot would also lengthen the lineup as a whole, putting hot hitting Victor Martinez in the clean-up spot and moving everyone else down a spot. This would also put less pressure on Hafner who is still recovering from shoulder surgery.
Although the Tribe has a lot more problems than just run production, one move like this could potentially spark this team to a different level of play. The Indians really need to get back to enjoying going out and playing the game of baseball. But in the meantime, let’s give an extra at-bat to a more consistent hitter and give Grady a chance to find himself a little lower in the lineup. Who knows? Maybe making these changes and sticking with them the majority of the time could lead to more runs and less stress on a wobbly bullpen.