Cody Allen has announced his retirement from baseball today at just 32-years-old, closing the door on a good run as an Indians reliever.
Cody Allen is one of the best players the Indians had in the bullpen over the last decade. During his seven seasons with the Indians, he became the team’s all-time saves leader with 149. He also holds the record for most appearances by a full-time reliever with 456 and is the franchise holder for most strikeouts in a career for a reliever with 564. That stat alone puts him at 40th all-time in strikeouts with the club against all pitchers.
While he did a lot of work in the bullpen, it’s hard to say that Allen deserves to be mentioned as an all-time Indians great. Yes, he has several records, but that’s more due to how often he was used, not how dominant he was when he was used. During his time with the Indians, he amassed well over 400 innings pitched. Yet, the only other category he stands out in, besides the ones mentioned, is wild pitches, where he’s 17th all-time in a field that includes starters.
He also wasn’t the most efficient closer, blowing 14% of his save opportunities while with the Indians. That may not sound like a lot, but he directly gave up anywhere from four to five games a year. That can be the difference between a divisional title and sitting at home in October.
He also never finished in the top five in saves in any given year.
While always a top ten closer during those three or four years at the back of the pen, he never made an All-Star game, nor did he win any reliever of the year type awards during his career. He also wasn’t a closer for very long, at least not long enough to warrant comparisons to other club’s best relievers.
None of this is meant to diminish his time with the Indians, which was very successful, merely just an acknowledgment of how high the bar is for a player to truly become an all-time great for an organization. Allen had a very good career and put up a lot of good numbers. He made a lot of money and got to play the game he loved.
He was one of the best pitchers the team had in 2016 when the Indians went to the World Series, not giving up a single run post-season. One great playoff run doesn’t make him a legend though, because just two post-seasons later he gave up six runs in just one inning.
He was a 23rd round draft pick, he wasn’t ever a great pitcher, but he was a very good one, and far exceeded his career expectations tenfold. That’s not something to shake a stick at. It just means his number isn’t going to be retired or have a statue made in his honor.
He fell a bit short of getting on the Jim Thome or Bob Feller level.