Remember when Grady Sizemore was one of the perennial elite players in all of baseball? Remember when he was posting these stat lines?

2005 (age 22): .289 BA, .348 OBP, .484 SLG, 123 OPS+, 22 HR, 22 SB, 5.9 WAR (T-8th in MLB, 3rd in AL)

2006 (age 23): .290 BA, .375 OBP, .533 SLG, 133 OPS+, 28 HR, 22 SB, 7.3 WAR (3rd in MLB, 1st in AL)

2007 (age 24): .277 BA, .390 OBP, .462 SLG, 123 OPS+, 24 HR, 33 SB, 6.1 WAR (T-9th in MLB, 4th in AL)

2008 (age 25): .268 BA, .374 OBP, .502 SLG, 133 OPS+, 33 HR, 38 SB, 5.1 WAR (T-20th in MLB, T-10th in AL)

I go to the trouble of writing out these stat lines because, over the last offseason, I lost sight of how great Grady was. I spent plenty of time thinking about how Grady’s time had probably passed. How quickly things change.

We were all spoiled by how great Sizemore was at such a young age. At the time, it seemed like he would lead the Tribe for years to come.

Then came the injuries. 2009 and 2010 knocked Grady off the pedestal he was on and brought him back down to Earth.

Now, in 2011, Grady’s nearly ready to rejoin the big league club. He’s currently at Akron on a rehab assignment and I was able to witness him play on Saturday.

Let me tell you, I think Grady’s back.

When I say back, I don’t necessarily mean back to his elite 2005-08 form. What I mean is that I think he can be an effective major league player again. If he can ascend back up to the ranks of the elite, all the better. But even just an average Grady Sizemore will help the Indians immensely.

In Akron on Saturday, Grady displayed the far-ranging skills necessary to play baseball at the highest levels. He beat out a grounder to 1st base to drive in a key run. He seemed like he got up to full speed without any trouble.

Later on in the 9th inning, Grady hit a shot deep into the left-center corridor for a solid double. When the sound of the bat hitting the ball sounds that good, you know you’ve witnessed something special. This wasn’t some former major league star trying to figure things out; this was Grady Sizemore showing everyone in attendance he’s ready to play.

Grady made all of the plays necessary in center field and looked ready to go. He’ll be ready to go soon enough, replacing Austin Kearns/Travis Buck/Shelley Duncan (thank goodness) in the lineup. The Tribe’s off to a fast start as it is; can you imagine the boost that a healthy Sizemore could bring to that lineup?

I don’t want to jinx it, but I like what I’ve seen from the Indians and I like what I’ve seen from Grady Sizemore. Tribe fans everywhere: I want you to get excited.

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