Lost in the wave of players coming over in the Mike Clevinger trade is the fact that the Indians did not, in fact, only trade their third Cy Young-caliber pitcher in the last 13 months yesterday. Greg Allen and a player to be named later will be joining Clevinger on the journey west, and while we don’t know for sure yet who the PTBNL is, we know who Greg Allen is and he deserves a proper send off as he heads to California to play for his hometown Padres.
Allen is one of many (some might say too many) players in recent years to bubble up through the minors, gain a sort of cult-like following, and bottom out before being shipped elsewhere. He came up with admittedly premature comparisons to Kenny Lofton, another six-foot-tall, freakishly athletic outfielder who profiled as a classic (now outdated) idea of a lead-off man. Allen, like Lofton, could seemingly get his bat to everything in the minors and he drew his fair share of walks at the lower levels.
Unfortunately, none of that translated to the majors and Allen’s time with the Indians — which began in 2017 — was marred with a lack of hard contact, not a lot of walks, and a broken hamate bone potentially slowing his development. His best statistical season came in 2018 when he played in 91 games, stole 21 bases and slashed .257/.310/.343 with a pair of homers. It was nothing that kept him in the lineup, and he bounced around between the bench and the minor leagues until this season, where he was miserable at the plate.
But more than Allen’s contributions on the field he was just ... likeable. Far more so than the other player involved in yesterday’s trade, and to the point that a lot of fans just wanted him to get more of a shot based on good-dudeness more than actual production. On Let’s Go Tribe alone, we wrote multiple times about Allen’s struggles and just how desperately we wanted him to figure it out.
Most importantly, he featured some of the fastest finger guns on the Indians.
4.1 pews per second and a 0.17 second draw time (and one good whack) on this absolute beaut of a finger gun from Gunslinger Allen pic.twitter.com/h1aV2NDJm2— Let's Go Tribe (@LetsGoTribe) May 30, 2019
Yesterday was not the first time the Indians tried to trade Allen, but after 2016’s dramatic trade deadline in which Jonathan Lucroy decided he would rather sell mattresses than play in the World Series, it was the first to be formally completed. We’ll never get to know for sure how he might have progressed if he didn’t suffer a broken hamate bone in 2017, or if he got consistent playing time, or if he could just lefties once in a while. But we’ll never have to doubt that he’s a great human being who deserves every shot at making this whole baseball thing work.
The skills are all there for Allen, something just has to bring it out of him. If it turns out he’s one of those “change of scenery” guys, there is not a better situation for him to be in than he is right now. He was born in San Diego, went to high school in Chula Vista, and played for San Diego State for three years. The guy bleeds San Diego, and while I would have preferred for him to figure it out in Cleveland, I’ll be cheering him on if something clicks in his home town.
So long, Handsome Greg.