Cleveland Indians fans don’t always realize just how lucky we are to have Cody Allen at the back end of the bullpen.
In the same 2011 draft that saw Trevor Bauer go number three overall to the Diamondbacks and Francisco Lindor earn an eighth overall selection by our hometown Tribe, Allen was selected in the 23rd round with pick number 698. And despite being passed over nearly 700 times, he became the second player from that draft class to reach the major leagues when he made his MLB debut on July 20th, 2012 (three weeks after Bauer’s first start with the D-backs). He struck out Mark Reynolds as part of a clean inning of work against the Orioles, and from that point on he was a fixture in the Tribe’s relief corps.
Cody Is The Greatest Indians Closer Of All Time
I’ve buried the lede in this piece, but if you’re enough of a fan to have journeyed to the corners of the internet in order to find our budding little Tribe content center, then you probably already know that Allen notched his 140th career save last night to become the franchise’s all-time saves leader. Some time ago, some scorekeeper arbitrarily decided that if a pitcher meets his subjective criteria, he should be credited for “saving” the game. Because of this random idea that snowballed into something more important than it should have ever been, a pitcher now gets a save if he finishes a game after entering with 1) a lead of three runs or fewer and at least three outs remaining, 2) the tying run either on base, at bat or on deck, or 3) at least nine outs remaining.
Yeah, it’s pretty cool that Allen now has a prestige record in Tribe history. But looking purely at a such a dumb statistic doesn’t do justice to the performance of Allen across the past half-decade. So you, the fans, deserve some more stats that prove just how excellent our closer really is, so that you can appreciate him as much as possible before he (probably) departs in free agency at season’s end. Much like the criteria of the save statistic, the order I’ve put these statistics in is arbitrary and subject to the importance that one person (read: me) places upon them.
#5: Cody Allen is the only reliever in baseball to pitch at least 67 innings in each of the past five seasons.
Durability is one of the more underrated measures of a good relief pitcher. After all, you can’t be useful to your team if you’re on the disabled list. And while 67 is an arbitrary number I purposely picked to eliminate all other relievers, the fact that he was able to toss such a significant number of innings across five consecutive seasons from 2013-2017 is an absurdly impressive feat. We’ve seen other teams struggle to lock down victories when their closers get hurt; thank goodness we’ve never even had to wonder “what if” since the moment he first earned the job. In case you were wondering, he’s on pace to exceed that 67-inning mark once again in 2018.
#4: Cody Allen owns a 0.47 ERA, 15.36 K/9 and 7 saves across 19 1/3 postseason innings.
The unique usage and utter dominance of Andrew Miller in the 2016 playoffs overshadowed what was a spectacular October performance by Allen, who didn’t yield a single run while pitching in ten of the Tribe’s 15 postseason games that year. He followed that up by allowing just one run while striking out eight across 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees in last year’s ALDS. All told, the right-hander’s WPA across 15 career postseason match-ups is a whopping 1.42. Loosely translated: when Allen’s taken the mound in a Tribe playoff game, he’s increased their chances of winning by nearly 10% on average. More simply put: Cody is clutch.
#3: Cody Allen has created about ten wins for the Indians.
This statistic is a little more subjective than the others, but advanced statistics suggest that Allen’s incredible talents have added about ten wins to the franchise. His career WPA of 10.39 is one indicator of that. Baseball Reference’s WAR formula loosely agrees, pegging him for 9.7 bWAR throughout his career as an Indian. Fangraphs’ 7.8 WAR estimate is a bit less bullish on him, but overall it’s reasonable to conclude that Allen’s value to the organization has been at or near double-digits in terms of wins. Not bad for a player that was passed over 22 times by every team during the 2011 draft.
#2: Cody Allen is also the Tribe’s all-time leader in strikeouts by a reliever, and it’s not even close.
Across his six and a half seasons as a Cleveland Indian, 90’s staple Eric Plunk chucked 462 innings and struck out almost exactly a batter per frame. His 460 strikeouts held up as a Tribe relief record for nearly two decades before Allen blew past it last season, finishing 2017 with 483 career K’s in an Indians uniform. He’s already managed to rack up 43 more this season for a grand total of 527… a full 67 strikeouts above Plunk’s mark. It’s not difficult to imagine he’ll pile another 40 or so onto that record by the end of the season, meaning that record will likely belong to Allen for a long, long time. He also appears in the top five all time among Tribe relievers in a host of other categories, including ERA, FIP, Innings, Appearances, WPA, K/9 and K:BB ratio (minimum 200 innings pitched for rate stats).
#1: Cody Allen Is On Pace To Become One Of The Best Relievers In Baseball History.
There’s a lot of variance with relievers, and the age of 30 brings with it a likelihood of decline. Still, Allen’s 10.39 career WPA puts him at number 72 all-time among relief pitchers in that category, and he’s still just 29 years old. If he can double that for the remainder of his career- it’s not a stretch to think that he could, considering what he’ll have accomplished in his first seven major league seasons- he’d easily land among the top 20 relievers in all of baseball history. Nobody is saying he’ll ever catch the great Mariano Rivera (55.75 WPA), but top 20 all-time is pretty freakin’ good.