Greg Allen could be a dark horse in the Cleveland Indians outfield

Greg Allen has shown a lot of promise in the Minor Leagues. This year is his chance to show what he can do at the Major League level.

The Cleveland Indians outfield situation is pretty much a muddy mess right now. There are a plethora of guys in the mix and none of them are particularly standing out from the hurd. Leonys Martin seems to have locked up the center field job, but the corners along with the fourth outfielder spots are wide open.

One of the players in the mix for a significant role is 25-year-old Greg Allen. With 116 games played at the big league level over the last two seasons, Allen is relatively inexperienced; but compared to the rest of the potential Indians outfielders he’s practically a vet.

Tyler Naquin has the most games under his belt with 196, followed by Allen. Then the field drops off to Jake Bauers with 96 and finally Jordan Luplow with 64.

Allen has a bit of an advantage as a switch hitter in that there is no need to platoon the young speedster. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions making him, in my view, the best option for the fourth outfielder.

If Bauers indeed slides into the left field spot, the right handed hitting Luplow would make a sensible platoon with the lefty Naquin in right field. That would leave Allen as the fourth outfielder, a role that should see him get plenty of playing time with this group.

An intriguing offensive weapon, Allen has yet to show his full potential at the Major League level. Last season he hit .257/.310/.343 in 291 plate appearances. Well enough I suppose for a 24-year-old official rookie. One of the strengths of his game, however, didn’t show itself with the parent club, his patience.

Allen has shown great patience at the plate during his minor league career. He has a 10.1% walk rate in 1,981 minor league plate appearances. In his days at the Major League level, his patience hasn’t yet shown through. It’s been only 4.8% in 330 major league plate appearances.

Had he achieved a 10% walk rate in 2018 with the Tribe, that slash immediately jumps to a much better .257/.361/.343. Getting on base for Allen is the key to his game. He has incredible speed and a great stolen base rate.

In 2018 Allen stole 21 bases in just 25 attempts, good enough for an 84% success rate. To put that in perspective, of the 28 players that stole at least 20 bases last year, Allen ranked 5th in success rate.

If allen was an everyday player, he has the ability to steal 40 bases every year. He may develop into that guy, but it appears that his role in 2018 is going to primarily be off the bench, at least to start the season.

He’s making good contact for a young hitter, rating above average in a few categories. In his Zone Contact, which is the percentage of pitches a hitter sees in the strike zone that he swings at and makes contact.

Allen’s Zone Contact last year was 88.9%, above the league average of 85.5%. He was also above average in 2018 with an 81.0% Contact. League average Contact Rate is 77.0%.

That contact rate is the number of pitches a hitter makes contact with verses the number of pitches at which a hitter swings.

Given these numbers, it should be no surprise then that he is better than the league average 10.7% Swinging Strike Rate with an 8.2% of his own. This contact didn’t translate into as many hits as one would expect from these number, especially since it wasn’t his quality of contact to blame.

The average Major League hitter makes soft contact 18.1% of the time. In 2018, Allen made soft contact just 13.2% of the time. Despite his above average contact rates and his low soft contact, he only hit .257.

I think it’s reasonable the say that if that contact keeps up, Allen could see a significant jump in his batting average in 2019. If he can get back to his patient ways and climb that walk rate up to 10%, that could make him a formidable hitter that works his way into a starting outfield spot before seasons end.

Next: First round of cuts for the Tribe come through

Greg Allen is still young, only 25 years old, and has some good upside. He’s shown a lot of patience at the plate, he’s great on the bases, and he makes good contact. He’s most likely to start the season as the fourth outfielder but if he starts having sustained success at the plate, he could wedge his way right into the starting nine. Especially if one of the other question marks in the grass falters.

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