Ben Revere may not have been the center fielder that many Phillies fans wanted this offseason, but once you learn a little bit about him, it is clear that he is exactly the center fielder that this team needs. Before I get into detail as to why that is, let's first address the question I can guess has been on many minds since the trade was announced: "Ben, who?"
You were not alone if this was your response to the Philadelphia Phillies trade with the Minnesota Twins. Leaving to go to Minnesota: Vance Worley, a former 11-game winner from 2011 and Trevor May, a top prospect in the organization who fell off a bit after a 10-13 season in 2012 at Reading. Returning to Philadelphia was the 24-year-old native from the state of Georgia, Ben Revere.
When the offseason began, Revere was a name that wasn't even on the Phillies' radar. BJ Upton was considered the team's major target and top goal, but he chose to sign with the rival Atlanta Braves. San Francisco's Angel Pagan was another option, but he too went elsewhere. Free agency seemed to be the direction the Phils were heading in, but the Colorado Rockies' Dexter Fowler came up as a possibility as well. The Phillies did have remote interest in a Twins' center fielder, but his name was Denard Span, and like Upton, he ended up with an NL East rival in the Washington Nationals.
When it was announced that the Phillies had found their center fielder, the expectation was that Michael Bourn would be making his return to the team. I don't think many expected however, that taking Shane Victorino's spot next year would be a second-year player who has a .278 batting average, 33 extra base hits and 74 stolen bases in his career.
To be honest, "Ben, who?" was exactly the question I asked when I first heard the trade. Being the baseball enthusiast I am however, I wasn't content with that question. So I asked around and I did my research, and came to the conclusion I stated above.
While Revere may not be Upton or Bourn or really anybody that many would have wanted to see in Phillies pinstripes, he fills a need perfectly for this team. And for those of you still questioning how, hopefully I can clear some of that up.
...But he has a below average OBP
...But he really doesn't drive in runs
...But he sees less than four pitches per plate appearance
So he doesn't work long counts, nor does he necessarily get on base that often. I'm sure you are thinking, then how does that make him a good choice to hit second? Here is why:
ESPN Stats states that when batting second, something Revere has done predominantly for his career, his slash line has actually been higher. Take last year for example. Revere hit .294 while posting a career-high .333 on base percentage. From the two-hole however, Revere batted .305 with an on-base percentage of .340.
He Doesn't Have A Career Home Run
Last season, Victorino hit 178 fly balls in his time with the Phillies, only two of which went for sacrifice flies. He did hit nine home runs, but for a two-hole hitter with the ability to leg out ground balls, he put the ball in the air way too much.
Revere on the other hand has yet to hit his first major league home run. Although, in a hitter's ballpark, that could happen next season. Regardless, his lack of a power stroke has Revere doing what speedy two-hole hitters should be doing and that is putting the ball on the ground and at least giving it a chance to turn into an infield hit. Last season, Revere put 324 of 464 balls in play on the ground. With less fly balls (140), Revere still managed to double the amount of sac flies Victorino had.
When Jimmy Scores, the Phillies Win
It is a theory, but a remarkably true one that when the Jimmy Rollins scores, the Phillies win the game. In fact in his career, Rollins has scored in 891 games. In 622 of these games, the Phillies have won. The numbers are even better when Rollins scores two or more runs as the Phils sit at 197 wins and just 54 losses in those such contests.
Revere hits for average and, although he may not take a lot of pitches, is a contact hitter. He puts the ball into play but is fast enough to avoid too many double plays. He also has a very low strikeout rate as opposed to both BJ Upton and Michael Bourn. If Rollins gets on base, unlike Victorino who seemed to give up more at-bats than not, Revere, in putting the ball on the ground, will be in position to advance Jimmy to second and even third. This leaves the run production to the two guys who have excelled in it during their career: Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Revere will have to give up his #11, but it is a small price to pay if he can help the Phils win games, like the team expects him to.
Player A: .278 (.319/.323/.642)
Player B: .255 (.336/.422/.758)
Player C: .272 (.339/.365/.704)
Player B (Upton) is the one the Phillies actively pursued, even offered a deal, Player C (Bourn) is the one some thought the team would pursue and Player A (Revere) is the one the Phillies wound up with. Obviously, with the exception of career average, both Bourn and Upton have better stats than Revere in OBP, SLG and OPS.
Mainly this is for two reasons.
1. Revere doesn't really work out many walks, just 29 in 511 at-bats last season.
2. He also has yet to hit a home run in his career, as opposed to Upton who averages 14.8 a season and Bourn, also not a power guy, who averages 3.1 a season.
But Revere is just 24 and he is moving to a hitter's ballpark. Also, the Phillies weren't necessarily looking for a twenty home run per season hitter to fill the center field role. After all, Victorino never hit more than 18 in a season and even then, popped up the ball way too much for a guy whose job it was to get on and steal bases.
So what if Revere doesn't smash like Upton? He certainly has come at a cheaper price. The 26-year-old Upton, commanded a huge deal from the Braves, a deal similar to what Bourn himself is looking for.
The Phillies meanwhile traded high on two of their pitchers, one of which struggled in Double-A, the other of which has gotten progressively worse in his time with the team. While both Vance Worley and Trevor May could pan out, the Phils get Revere, a somewhat proven commodity.
According to Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com and Philliesnation.com, "The Phillies are hoping Revere turns into the next Michael Bourn."
If his stats are any indication, the kid might be well on his way to doing just that.
This might not be a fair statement considering that Revere only has two years of major league experience, but nevertheless, the fact that he has improved greatly upon his rookie season, points to a bright future for the young center fielder who could be sticking around the city for quite some time.
Let's take a look at some of Revere's minor league numbers to get an idea of just how much improvement the Phillies can realistically expect from the former Minnesota Twin.
A+ (1 season): 466 at-bats, 75 runs, 48 RBI, .311 BA
Rk (1 season): 191 at-bats, 46 runs, 29 RBI, .325 BA
A (1 season): 340 at-bats, 51 runs, 43 RBI, .379 BA
AA (1 season): 361 at-bats, 44 runs, 23 RBI, .305 BA
AAA (2 seasons): 226 at-bats, 24 runs, 15 RBI, .314 BA
To break these down, basically, Revere is not going to be a guy that is going to produce a lot of runs. His RBI totals in the minors were low and have not gotten any better in two years at the major league level.
He has shown an ability to score runs however, increasing from 56 to 70 in two years. At Citizen's Bank Park, he should be able to reach 90 runs at some point in his career with the Phillies.
Also worth noting is the fact that Revere did play for the Twins. As a friend of mine pointed out, Minnesota did not exactly have the best offense, finishing 16th in total runs. These numbers did top the 19th place finish of the Phillies, but with Howard and Utley back healthy and prepared to play at least most of the 2013 season, the Phils offense should see a bump in production.
In terms of Revere scoring runs, batting in front of Utley and Howard will only help his chance to increase those numbers as well.
For quite some time, the Phillies have been the best or one of the best in the majors when it comes to base stealing accuracy. This has mainly been due to the intelligent running of Chase Utley and Shane Victorino, but another reason is that, on this team, many players have green lights to go.
All of this changes with Revere.
Even though Rollins, Victorino and Juan Pierre were all base stealing threats, Revere is actually a guy, much like Bourn, that can be expected to go all of the time. Based on his career numbers, stealing a total of 74 bases in two seasons, Revere should have the green light.
In addition to his prowess in base stealing, Revere also uses his speed in other useful ways. Last year he led the American League with 32 infield hits and was third in all of baseball with nine bunt singles.
On a team that has no concept of playing hit and run, bringing in Revere, could point to a team that is willing to give up on the idea that all of their scoring will come from the long ball. It may not be their philosophy but regardless, having Revere's speed is something this team will certainly benefit from.
It seems simple, but I cannot stress this enough. The fact that Revere is 1) not arbitration eligible until 2014 and 2) under team control under 2017 is something that has huge importance going forward.
Revere is and will be the center fielder of the future unless the Phils trade him in the next five years.
Let's think about this from a mathematical and baseball standpoint.
Revere will be 24 when the 2013 season starts. In 2017, he will be 28. Essentially what this means is the team will have control over Revere in what could and should be the best years of his career.
In fact in baseball, and the Phillies themselves are a bit of an example of this, players aged 26 -30 enter into their prime and perform at their best. In 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series, Utley (29), Howard (29), Carlos Ruiz (29) and Rollins (30) were all in their prime and led the team to the title.
Possibly the same will be said of Revere. He already has two years of major league experience, has improved from his first year to his second year and will be going to a hitter's ballpark.
His prime therefore, could prove to be a very beneficial time for both his stats and the Phillies' goals as a team.
MIchael Bourn 2012: 624 AB, 9 HR, 155 SO
BJ Upton 2012: 573 AB, 28 HR, 169 SO
Ben Revere 2012: 511 AB, 0 HR, 54 SO
That last number in Revere's line just jumps out at you. In 511 at-bats, he struck out just 54 times. He may not have hit any home runs, but those strike out numbers are phenomenal for a young hitter. It shows that even though he doesn't have plate discipline, taking less than four pitches per at-bat, he doesn't swing and miss much. He is a contact hitter and with the way the Phils line-up is built, a contact hitter that doesn't strike out is exactly what they need.
Now, had the team gotten Upton, the strikeout numbers wouldn't be so bad considering that he did hit 28 home runs, approximately one every 30 at-bats. Even then though, if the Phillies had added Upton's strikeout totals from last year, which are pretty in line with what he has done the past few years, their line-up would have looked like this:
Rollins: 96 SO in 632 AB
Victorino: 49 SO in 387 AB
Utley: 43 SO in 301 AB
Howard: 99 SO in 260 AB (14 HR)
Considering that three of these four are just partial season samples, if you were to carry the numbers over for a full season, Howard's strike outs would once again approach 180+, and Utley's and Victorino's would hit just under 100.
Adding in Upton's 169 SO would mean that over half of the team had over 90 strikeouts. So while the Phillies could use a power hitter to man the corner of their outfield, they don't need someone else that is going to strike out, killing rallies and preventing runs from being scored.
Although the Phillies receive an upgrade over Victorino in many areas, one in which they don't is arm strength. Revere is an above average defender, but similarly to Juan Pierre, has a very weak arm and shouldn't be expected to make some of the miracle plays Victorino has in the past.
That said, Revere is good with his glove and has the great speed needed to adequately cover center field. In his career, he has played 134 games in center, recording 339 put outs, five assists and committing just seven errors.
Despite Victorino's impeccable fielding percentage, Revere actually has a better zone rating, due in fact to his ability to cover a larger zone. So again, he may not make spectacular plays to get outs at the plate, but it wouldn't be surprising to see some highlight reel catches such as what he has done before with the Twins.
Ah yes. Perhaps the most interesting and intriguing element of the Revere trade has nothing to do with Revere himself, but rather the possibilities that his acquisition opens up for the Phillies to aggressively pursue a corner outfielder. Namely, Josh Hamilton.
When the offseason first began, the Phillies were one of several teams linked to Hamilton. Of course, the Phils would love to get the power hitting left-hander. That is, if the price is right. After overspending in the past, it seems the Phillies are being more conservative this year.
BJ Upton was the main target of the Phillies and when he chose Atlanta over Philadelphia, it shocked many both inside and outside of the organization. With Upton off the table and Angel Pagan shortly thereafter, it would not be surprising to think that the trade for Revere, who was owed just $500,000 last year and the trade for Michael Young, who the Texas Rangers are paying $10 million of the $16 million he is owed in 2013, all point to something bigger brewing shortly in the distance.
In the past three years, with Roy Halladay (2010), Cliff Lee (2011) and Jonathan Papelbon (2012), the Phillies have acquired the top free agent at their position. After a season of hitting 43 home runs and over 100 RBI, Hamilton is the top outfielder on the market. He expects to command a pretty decent salary however, something the Phillies are in a much better position to give since they aren't paying a Bourn or Upton $75-90 M over six years.
There are of course pros and cons to the Phillies pursuit of Hamilton, but one of the most interesting things to consider is how Hamilton would not only fit in the line-up, but also how his signing would completely validate the Revere trade.
Think of it this way. Everything that Revere is, Hamilton isn't and vice versa. It doesn't matter then that Revere has yet to hit a home run, because Hamilton averages 26.8 a year in his career. So what if Revere doesn't drive in runs because Hamilton from the third or fifth spot will drive in close to 100 a season.
So as you can see, what Revere lacks would certainly be made up for if the team signed Hamilton. Even if they don't however, with how little Revere is owed, the Phillies have the flexibility to go after the right-handed power bat as the corner outfielder they so desire.