In a 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers last night, Grady Sizemore hit home runs number 30 and 31, pushing his season line to a phenomenal .271/.383/.532 mark. Having turned just 26 three weeks ago or so, Sizemore has affirmed that his outstanding 2006 campaign (.290/.375/.533) was no outlier. It seems safe to say that he has arrived as a superstar for years to come.
Of course that he may have reached a new, sustained performance level should strike fear into the rest of the league. Sizemore is already a player of historic significance, as there just have not been many center fielders able to produce, both with the glove and the bat, the way Grady has so early on in his career. He won the 2007 Gold Glove, and defensive statistics show him to have been one of the finest defenders before last season as well. Offensively, well, have a look at the table below.
From To AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Griffey '89 - '93 .303 .375 .520 145
Lynn '74 - '78 .303 .372 .498 133
C Cedeno '70 - '74 .294 .346 .476 131
Sizemore '04 - '08 .280 .372 .494 126
Wynn '63 - '67 .254 .336 .4444 125
Over the last fifty years, that's your list of center fielders who have managed a 125 OPS+ or better in their first five seasons. If Sizemore stays healthy and settles into the .375/.520 hitter it appears he is, Sizemore will eventually take his place among the finest center fielders ever to play.