Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com passes along news from SportsTime Ohio (STO) that Grady Sizemore will bat No. 2 this season and Asdrubal Cabrera will lead off.
According to the STO report, new manager Manny Acta told Sizemore that the decision was made in order to take advantage of his power and run producing ability. He told Sizemore the Indians could get much more out of him this way since he bats roughly 150 times without anybody on base out of the No. 1 spot. Anybody who reads this blog knows that we’re a fan of Acta’s sabermetric leanings, although it didn’t lead to success in Washington.
Sizemore, who underwent surgeries to repair his left elbow and abdominal wall last September, had 109 at-bats out of the two-spot last season, but has been the primary leadoff hitter for Cleveland since the 2005 season. 2753 of his 3131 career at-bats have come out of the No. 1 spot in the order.
Cabrera isn’t exactly the on-base machine that Sizemore is, but he’s close, posting on-base percentages of .354 (2007), .346 (2008) and .361 (2009) over his first three seasons in the majors. He put together a .301/.340/.459 batting line in 131 at-bats out of the leadoff spot last season while Sizemore battled injuries and ineffectiveness.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.