Thursday, January 23, 2014

More Sizemore...

Much of the discussion that I've seen on Boston's recent signing has centered on the fact that Grady Sizemore has missed two full years, and a lot of time due to injury in the two years prior to that.  There is skepticism that he can come back at age 31 and be an effective Major League hitter.

Well, there is precedent.  Here's a good center fielder returning to MLB at age 31 after missing more than two full seasons:

Joe DiMaggio
1942 - .305/.376/.498/.875, OPS+ 147
1943-1945 - Did not play
1946 - .290/.367/.511/.878, OPS+ 142
Obviously, very different circumstances, but...

Washington's Stan Spence also played CF at age 31. He had only missed one full season.
1944 - .316/.391/.486/.877, OPS+ 155
1945 - Did not play
1946 - .292/.365/.497/.861, OPS+ 145
Luke Appling missed his age 37 season and hit .368/.478/.526/1.005, OPS+ 195 as a 38 year-old. Tommy Henrich hit .251/.358/.411/.769, OPS+ 113 as a 33 year-old after missing three full seasons.

If Sizemore cannot physically stay healthy enough to play MLB, then he'll cost the Red Sox $750,000 and a roster spot and some time spent determining that. If he can, then age and time missed aren't adequate reasons to think that he couldn't have another one or two good seasons.

So it's a good signing. The likeliest scenario is that he gives them almost nothing and costs them almost nothing. There's a small potential for a positive contribution that outweighs any of the likely costs. But he can't hurt them unless he's a) healthy b) bad and c) in the lineup every day. Which would be the manager's fault, and still wouldn't make it a bad signing.

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Red Sox sign Grady Sizemore to one-year deal

Boston Globe: Red Sox sign Grady Sizemore to one-year deal

I. Love. This. Signing.

Love, love, love.

He's 31 years old, and has played only 210 games over the past five years, none over the past two. But from age 22-25, he hit .281/.372/.496/.868 (OPS+ of 128) while playing Gold Glove caliber defense in Center Field and making the All Star Game in the last three of those four years. And they're paying him $750,000 if he gives them nothing. And they're not depending on him being healthy and working out, because they've already got Bradley. This is the epitome of a low-risk, potentially high-reward move. If the 80% chance is that he's too rusty and/or injured to be productive, he costs them essentially nothing. Maybe there's a 15% chance that he gives them what he gave Cleveland in 2009 - 75-100 games at a 110 OPS+ in CF, taking some of the pressure off Bradley. And maybe even 5% that he comes close to all the way back, and has a healthy and productive full year.

Adjust those probabilities however you like, the cost is so low that they would have to handle the situation very badly to hurt the team.

So I love it...

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