Cody Allen for Closer! [WoF vs. That Guy]

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Apr 4, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; A fan holds a Chief Wahoo sign during a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Cleveland won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

We all know “That Guy”.  He’s the typical uneducated Indians fan clamoring for that Right Handed Power Bat, petitioning to get rid of solid players after a down season, yelling at the front office for not calling up top prospects as soon as possible, and vowing that he won’t come to the stadium until the Indians start spending money on the top tier free agents.  “That Guy” can be a pain in the butt, but Wahoo’s on First is here to help keep him quiet and, better yet, educate him.

This time, That Guy is ticked off because the Indians won’t commit to Cody Allen as their closer.

That Guy:  Yo dawg, the Indians have totally lost their marbles this time!  Terry Francona says that the Indians won’t necessarily use Cody Allen as a closer, but could use him in any inning!  Hashtag STUPID.  He’s dirty; easily the Tribe’s best reliever.  And he did a baller job last year!  This makes no sense, yo.

Wahoo’s on First:  That Guy, your argument for making him the closer is actually a strong case for why he shouldn’t be penciled into the 9th inning.

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That Guy:  Quit speaking in riddles, bro.  I’ve really done my homework this time.  Cody Allen has a 2.25 ERA over the past two years while striking out 11.51 batters per nine innings!  That’s inhuman!  If he’s in the ninth and the Indians are ahead, he’s basically a guarantee for a W.  Why not make him the closer?

Wahoo’s on First:  Because games aren’t always won or lost in the 9th inning, That Guy.

That Guy:  Not sure what kind of paint you’ve been huffing, dawg, but that’s usually when the game ends.

Wahoo’s on First:  Sure, but it’s not always when the winning runs are scored.  Have you ever seen a game where a team scores five runs in the seventh?

That Guy:  I watch a lot of baseball, bro.  I’ve seen just about everything.

Wahoo’s on First:  So you’ve probably felt the frustration of watching your team’s one-run lead crumble in the seventh inning after the other team’s cleanup hitter hits a double with the bases loaded.  Or something similar.

That Guy:  Well yeah man, but don’t bring up those memories.  They still hurt.

Wahoo’s on First:  Now let me ask you this:  There’s one out in the seventh inning.  The Indians are clinging to a one-run lead against the Angels with the bases are loaded, and the Angels are about to send Mike Trout to the batter’s box with Albert Pujols on deck.  Who would you want on the mound?

That Guy:  Huh.  I guess I’d want my best relief pitcher out there.

Wahoo’s on First:  Congratulations.  You officially have more common sense than Ned Yost.  So why give Cody Allen a label that means he has to stay in the ninth, when that might mean he overpowers the seven, eight and nine hitters while Scott Atchison faces the heart of the order in a high-pressure situation?

That Guy:  But isn’t that how teams normally do things?

Wahoo’s on First:  It’s only become a trend in recent decades to label your best relief pitcher as your “closer”.  Before that, teams used terms like “relief ace” or “fireman” to describe their best relievers who would come in for mop-up duty.  And that’s not the only reason to be flexible with Cody Allen’s usage.

Aug 19, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen (37) pitches in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Cleveland Indians win 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

That Guy:  Okay, I’ll bite.  What do you mean?

Wahoo’s on First:  Cody Allen is just a year away from his first go through baseball’s arbitration system, where he’ll begin to get a hefty raise every year for three years until he becomes a free agent.

That Guy:  Cut it out man, that’s depressing.

Wahoo’s on First:  Bear with me.  Arbitration panels place a high level of value on outdated, situational stats like RBI, wins, and, notable in this case, saves.  While it’s equally important to hold a lead in any inning, the save stat is overvalued because… well because it just is, I guess.

That Guy:  Yeah, saves are the bomb!

Wahoo’s on First:  It’s definitely fun seeing a pitcher save a close game in the ninth.  But it’s dumb to place a heavy amount of value on them.  See, on some magical day in baseball history, someone decided that the relief ace “saved” the game in the ninth, then put together some loose-fitting situational criteria to describe what a “save” is.  As it stands, a pitcher only needs to hold a three-run lead for one inning to get a save.  So, it’s technically possible for a pitcher to have an 18.00 ERA, a 5.00 WHIP and 18 HR/9 while accruing 50 saves in a season.  While that would never actually happen, it shows the fallacy of giving value to the save stat when a pitcher could theoretically give up two homers and walk three batters while still notching a save.

That Guy:  Whoa.  I didn’t realize “save” was such a loosely-used term.

Wahoo’s on First:  The problem is, arbitration panels will award more money to a player based on how many saves he gets in a season.  But, if Cody Allen can “save” (in a more liberal sense of the word) the game in the sixth, seventh or eighth when the Indians are in trouble, the Indians won’t have to pay him as much every year, and they can spend that money on other things.  Like maybe that right-handed power bat you keep asking Santa for every Christmas.

That Guy:  Oh wow, could they really?

Wahoo’s on First:  In theory.  Or they could spend the money on something they can actually get value out of.  Either way, slapping the “closer” label on Cody Allen doesn’t to the team or the fans any good.  We’d be better off using him whenever he’s needed most, while keeping his price tag down.  Glad we had a chance to “save” you from yourself, That Guy.  Haha!

That Guy:  You’re the worst, yo.

Have you heard a stereotypical “That Guy” complaint lately?  We hear a lot of them, but there are plenty of unique ones we may not have caught wind of.  If you want us to write about yours, e-mail it to us at wahoosonfirst@gmail.com.

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