Greg Allen made a little bit of history on Tuesday night. He could not have done so without his legs.
The outfielder became the first player ever with at least two steals, one double and one triple in his first four games with New York, per Stathead’s Katie Sharp. A fun fact for sure, as Sharp described the tidbit, but also one that explains why Allen has been able to standout among the handful of replacement players the Yankees have called up following their latest COVID-19 woes.
Any production is good production for a team that’s lacking key contributors and just a few games over .500, but Allen’s has come by way of speed. That’s an element the typically lumbering Yankees have not seen much of this season.
“It’s been nice because it’s come into play for us and helped us win a couple ballgames,” Aaron Boone said Tuesday of Allen’s quickness on the bases and in the outfield. “It’s definitely been a factor.
"I love what he’s brought.”
Allen must be loving it, too.
The 28-year-old was acquired by the Yankees in a January trade that sent minor league pitcher James Reeves to the Padres. However, Allen was designated for assignment the following month when New York needed to clear 40-man roster spots for Justin Wilson and Brett Gardner.
Nobody claimed Allen, who owned a .239/.298/.343 slash line but stole 32 bases in 221 MLB games with Cleveland and San Diego. He was outrighted and given a non-roster invite to spring training. Now, after hitting .272 at Triple-A, the swift switch-hitter is making an impact in the majors while the short-handed Yankees try to get through a crucial part of their schedule.
Allen’s haste was on full display in Tuesday’s 6-4 win over the Phillies, starting with a third-inning, leadoff triple off the right field wall. It didn’t take long for him to score and tie the game at one after that.
Then, with the Phillies once again up a run in the fifth, Allen walked, stole a base and advanced to third on a fly ball. That set him up to score on a poor throw from Didi Gregorius, who tried to double Allen off after catching a liner from Tyler Wade.
Allen is now 4-for-8 with five runs, two extra-base hits, one RBI, two stolen bases, three walks and three strikeouts in 12 plate appearances. He’s slashing .500/.583/.875 in his brief tenure with New York.
Maintaining such numbers is impossible, and Allen’s aforementioned career stats serve as a better indicator of what he’s capable of over an extended stretch. However, his agility is clearly something the Yankees have been missing. That was one of the reasons New York traded for Tim Locastro, but his season just ended with a torn ACL.
If Allen can keep contributing with his quick pace, there is a role he can fill even after the team gets healthy.
"It goes down to just finding ways to impact the game," Allen said. "You may not always get a hit while you’re at bat, but if you can make a good defensive play, get in scoring position, or help a team score a run with your legs, all those things have value.”
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