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Fixing Ben Revere

Ben Revere has had a couple big hits lately — Sunday night’s go-ahead single and Friday’s first-inning triple — but overall, the Phillies’ center fielder has struggled through 20 games. He hit .294 with a paltry .675 OPS with the Twins last year, but those numbers are down to .215 and .494 thus far. Obviously, we’re dealing with a small sample size of 85 plate appearances, so a lot can change over the next five months, and Revere has never exactly been known for his offense.

In looking at Revere’s stats, three things immediately jump out at you:

Last year, Revere had a majority of his success on pitches on the outer-third of the plate as his BABIP was .367. This year, he isn’t having any success on the outer-third as his BABIP is .154. You can see the difference in the following heat maps:

Meanwhile, Revere isn’t having any success on inside pitches unless they’re low and in. His overall BABIP on inside pitches is .313 but his batting average is .217 thanks to seven strikeouts in 24 plate appearances (29 percent). Last year, his overall BABIP on inside pitches was .296 with a .272 average, including 12 strikeouts in 137 PA (nine percent).

Pitchers are approaching him the same way as last year — they challenge him with mostly fastballs over the plate. And Revere is having similar success on fastballs though he is swinging and missing at twice last year’s rate. It’s the soft stuff that is giving Revere fits right now, at least when it comes to putting balls in play. He has an .074 average and .087 BABIP on pitches labeled “soft” compared to .245 and .294 last year. Revere would hit line drives on soft pitches as his rate was 15 percent last year and is only nine percent thus far. Pitchers are also throwing their breaking pitches right over the plate, astonishingly:

Thus, Revere’s two biggest problems are:

Identifying the problems are one thing, finding a solution is another. It could be entirely a sample size issue, it could be mechanical, or it could simply be based on Revere’s approach. As the season goes on, Revere’s ability to adjust will tell us if his elite defense and base running are enough to justify keeping his weak bat in the lineup.