Who would you want at the plate?

Came across an interesting Tribe discussion, a simple question that isn’t such a simple answer.

Who is the Indians’ best hitter? Not best talent, or best overall player, who is their best hitter, right now, at this juncture in time.

Personally, I think there are only three good answers:

Grady Sizemore

Shin-Soo Choo

Asdrubal Cabrera

And, personally, I only think one of them is right. Let’s look at all three:

Sizemore is obviously the more accomplished of the three, having been a regular since 2005. He was the definition of durable from 2004-2008, but in 09 he went on the DL for the first time, and easily had his worst year, with an OBP of .343, 18 Home runs and 13 steals, over 436 ABs. I don’t put too much stock into RBIs, but Sizemore’s 64 were good for a guy who hit mostly leadoff and second in the order. Even at his worst, Sizemore’s numbers aren’t terrible.

Choo  had the best year in 2009. After having injury problems through most of 07 and much of 08, Choo showed why the Indians liked him in the first place. He had an OBP of .394 with 20 HR and 21 steals. Unfortunately, last year was his only full season in the bigs, so that’s kinda all we have to go off.

Finally, Cabrera is admittedly the dark horse candidate.  He rebounded nicely from an up and mostly down sophomore season in 2008. .361 OBP and was probably our most consistent hitter. Interesting stat: Cabrera was a better hitter when the Indians won, having a blistering .425 OBP in wins. In losses, it was .312.

But not hitting well in losses is not why I’m eliminating Cabrera. He looks like he’ll turn out to be a fine player, but he doesn’t have much power right now (6 HR in 2009). And seeing as both the other candidates have some pop in their bats makes it pretty easy to cross Cabrera off the list.

If this were still 2009, my pick would have easily been Choo. But with this being 2010, and Sizemore recovering, I think the pick has to be Grady once again. Yes, his batting average isn’t pretty but he gets on base. His OPS last year was .788, not terrible, and also the lowest of his career when he has more than 200 ABs.

Another knock on Grady is that he strikes out too much. People have this fear of strikeouts that I just don’t understand. A strikeout is no worse than any other out. I should know, I probably have the Westlake Rec league record for them. There’s no added penalty for a strikeout. Plus, in Sizemore’s last full year, 2008, he actually had 25 fewer strikeouts than the year before.

What should be highlighted about Sizemore is that he doesn’t ground into double plays except for a completely uncharacteristic 2005 when he had 17. Since? His highest is 5, recorded in 2008. Grounding into double plays is so much worse than striking out, people just have this silly notion that you’ll always have a chance if you just put the bat on the ball.

As for Choo, he looks like he’ll be a stalwart on these bad Indians teams we’re going to be watching. Choo’s an excellent hitter, but Grady is a game-changer.

So I guess the next question that I ask to you is, where do you hit Sizemore in the batting order? Let me know in the comments section!

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera Grady Sizemore Shin Soo Choo

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