Phillies Should See Ben Revere Through the Good and the Bad Times

Over at The Good Phight, John Stolnis has a thoughtful piece up calling for the Phillies to give Ben Revere some more time on the bench in favor of Tony Gwynn, Jr., at least for the time being. As I mentioned recently, Ben Revere has been purely a singles hitter which is great for the bar scene, but not so much on a baseball team. Revere is sitting on a disappointing .277/.289/.311 slash line through 122 plate appearances. And I respectfully disagree with Stolnis.

Fans are growing impatient with Revere because he hasn’t done a whole lot of anything lately. He needs to hit .300 and steal 45-plus bags to have any value and he’s hitting .277, though he is on pace for 49 stolen bases. He has played worse defense than expected, highlighted by this gaffe in Wednesday’s night’s 10-0 loss at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays:

Revere has taken some very poor routes and hasn’t shown any improvement in that area even when it was identified early last season. His arm, as usual, has been terrible. Why shouldn’t the Phillies, who are two games under .500 and three games out of first place in the NL East, bench Revere in favor of Gwynn, who has been comparatively better in a small sample?

Gwynn has a .250/.362/.300 slash line which is only more impressive than Revere’s in the on-base department. However, his on-base percentage is inflated by a high walk rate. He’s drawn walks at a 14.3 percent clip, about five percent higher than his 8.9 percent career average. The difference may seem small given the sample size, but if he was at his career average, he would have four walks instead of seven. His on-base percentage would be .318 instead of .362. Unless we are to believe that Gwynn has, all of a sudden at the age of 31, developed a much better eye at the plate, we should expect his walk rate to regress towards his career average.

Other than the walk rate, Gwynn and Revere are shockingly similar players:

Name PA HR SB BB% K% ISO wOBA wRC+ WAR
Ben Revere 1522 0 106 4.9% 9.9% .044 .290 80 5.5
Tony Gwynn 1720 7 77 8.9% 16.5% .074 .284 76 5.4

They even made symmetrically embarrassing plays in the outfield last night:

FanGraphs doesn’t grade Gwynn to be that much better than Revere. In 2,350 1/3 defensive innings, Gwynn has a 20.8 UZR while Revere has a 17.5 UZR in 761 2/3 defensive innings. (Small sample caveats apply; one should have about three seasons’ worth of UZR data before using them with any degree of certainty.)

So the Phillies would be replacing the 25-year-old Revere with the 31-year-old Gwynn for essentially no upgrade. What the Phillies risk is defeating Revere from a mental perspective. They would have to have a great understanding of him as a person and ask themselves if they’re sure it would motivate, rather than demotivate, Revere. Would it create tension between Revere and the team?

Another thing to consider is that the Phillies have control of Revere through 2017. He makes $1.95 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for three more seasons. If they can mold Revere into a better player — and they should know, or at least believe, that they can — then they want him to play as much as possible and make his mistakes now rather than in 2016 or ’17 when the team expects to be legitimately competitive.

Revere is a very frustrating player to watch. But benching him because he isn’t graceful won’t make the Phillies a better team, and it won’t make him a better player. For better or worse, Revere is the Phillies’ best option in center field at the moment and the team needs to see it through so that they can get as much return on their investment as possible. If there’s an affordable center fielder on the trade market, or in free agency after the season, the Phillies would be foolish not to do their due diligence and try to make an upgrade. But for now? It’s Revere or bust.

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33 comments

  1. JB Allen

    May 08, 2014 08:23 AM

    Revere is the Poor Man’s Juan Pierre.

  2. Tom

    May 08, 2014 08:52 AM

    Would have really liked to have seen Revere on one of the phillies teams a few years ago with a couple of guys who could hit the long ball.

    • mark66

      May 09, 2014 11:49 AM

      Revere’s make up just does not fit this team. We do not have enough producers.

  3. Carmine Spellane

    May 08, 2014 08:54 AM

    Bill, I’m a fan of yours, but you doubt that Gwynn can learn to cultivate a better batting eye, yet stated the other day that Revere needs to learn to drive the ball — a much tougher task? I am not advocating for Gwynn, and don’t expect anything from him except to be a decent backup and solid defender. And I agree with the overall premise of your article that we are stuck with Revere for this year. But if the Phillies compete in 2016-17, it will be with someone else in center field, not this 1.5-tool player.

    • Bill Baer

      May 08, 2014 09:02 AM

      The difference is Gwynn is 31, Revere is 25. Maybe some guys are teachable well into their 30′s, and Gwynn could be one of those guys, but you’re better off trying to make the six-year junior into a better ballplayer, especially when you’ve invested in him.

      • Carmine Spellane

        May 08, 2014 02:50 PM

        Fair enough, although I would also argue that plate discipline can be learned at any age. Regardless, I’m not advocating for Gwynn who is fortunate to be on major league roster. Your argument is logical, but when I see prospect after prospect coming to the show with poor fundamentals and some on the major league roster being allowed to continue their flawed hitting approaches, then I would ask who exactly in the organization is going to teach Ben to drive the ball, let along take better routes to fly balls and run the bases properly?

    • mark66

      May 09, 2014 11:51 AM

      I wish I knew where are going to find this player. He’s not in OUR farm system. We only produce marginal players at best anymore.

  4. TomG

    May 08, 2014 09:11 AM

    I read Stolnis’s piece just before yours. I think I agree with your argument more, but I’m not sure if that’s because I just kind of like Revere even though, yes, he can be a bit taxing on one’s nerves. I agree with you that he can get better and if he can, now is the time to give him the opportunity to do so. If he fails to do so, with the current Phillies team, that looks as though it might be the difference between a 4th place finish and a 5th place finish. So, essentially, who cares? On the other hand, by 2016 or ’17, I kinda hope the Phillies have a better option in center and that Revere has, by then, developed into a viable 4th outfielder. (If he’s still the starter, they’d better be a lot better elsewhere offensively and defensively to make up for his weaknesses.)

    If by “symmetrically embarrassing” you mean Revere’s gaffe last night was equally embarrassing as Gwynn’s, I’d have to disagree. Gwynn’s seems much worse to me.

    But if you mean they made for a couple of Fine Embarrassing Bookends in an Inning of Collective Suck, I would agree.

  5. nik

    May 08, 2014 09:30 AM

    The problem I think is even if the OBP moves up – there is little hope for outfield improvement (Dom Brown comes to mind) and what then is his ultimate upside? 1-2 WAR player? So what if he’s cheap the next 3 years if he’s not a Major League regular? On a good team he’s not even a bench player. If there is a place the Phillies need to plan on improving next season, CF would be at the top of my list.

    • Bill Baer

      May 08, 2014 10:59 AM

      1-2 WAR players are valuable, especially if they play center field. Phillies fans were spoiled with the Shane Victorino years. You’re fortunate if you have a 3-4 WAR center fielder.

    • mark66

      May 09, 2014 11:53 AM

      D. Brown is and has not produced for awhile. His time is beginning to run out. He is showing he is very marginal at best

  6. amarosucks

    May 08, 2014 10:06 AM

    The problem is that we are talking about ben revere and tony gwynn jr.

    Amaro is the worst. I feel bad for sandberg

    • awh™

      May 08, 2014 01:48 PM

      I don’t feel bad for him at all. He’s made his share of dumb moves.

  7. Oskar

    May 08, 2014 11:52 AM

    One sentence summary: The Phils should play Revere because the other options are equally if not more terrible.

    • pedro3131

      May 08, 2014 12:08 PM

      I feel like you could make that statement about the entire roster.

      • hk

        May 08, 2014 03:15 PM

        Of course you can say that about all of the regulars…the bench consists of Wil Nieves, Galvis, the wrong Mayberry, the wrong Gwynn and quite possibly the wrong Nix (and that’s saying something). It is pretty amazing that they are at the luxury tax threshold with that bench.

    • mark66

      May 09, 2014 11:54 AM

      Put the blame where it’s due–GM and front office. Too bad ownership doesn’t see it.

  8. BeninDC

    May 08, 2014 02:32 PM

    Bill,

    I’m intrigued by your comment “rather than in 2016 or ’17 when the team expects to be legitimately competitive.” I’d love for you to write up something explaining your basis for this opinion. From everything I read, it appears that the Phils will have stud J.P. Crawford and a whole lot of mediocrity to above-average mediocrity on the field, albeit with more salary flexibility to buy overpriced free agents come 2016 or 2017. What do you see?

    On a side note, @adamd243 is from my hometown, and I went to college with him, too. He is a good dude, I’m sure he’s a good writer, and good on you for bringing him aboard.

    BeninDC

      • BeninDC

        May 08, 2014 08:35 PM

        The same.

    • mark66

      May 09, 2014 07:50 AM

      The Phils GM and front office have put the team in the position of why they are playing so poorly. So STOP with the excuses, the truth hurts. MAKE CHANGES in the front and GM and your problems will be corrected. Don’t blame Sandberg.

    • Pencilfish

      May 09, 2014 02:30 PM

      Yeah, I don’t understand the comment “team expects to be legitimately competitive” in 2016 or 2017 either. Maybe Bill means “hopes to be
      legitimately competitive”.

  9. loctastic

    May 08, 2014 02:41 PM

    i agree with this point more than i agree with john’s. the points made are technically correct but to what end? revere’s shown no improvement and i don’t think it’s coming. even if he hits .300, his OBP is still going to be ~.320 with that walk rate. that’s not enough for a starting CF on a good team. you can argue this isn’t a good team but then what is the point of anything? gwynn is 31 and isn’t going to morph into a .800 OPS guy either. starting him is an even worse option.

    i wager they’re gonna try ruf – byrd – brown at some point. yeah i know byrd hasn’t played CF regularly since 2011. will the defense be good? no, it’ll be terrible! lots and lots of doubles given up in the gaps. but at least we’ll get some guys in the lineup who can hit the ball out of the infield. and throw the ball back to the infield. and yeah you’re giving up on revere’s progression but i’m not sure he has that in him.

    i’d rather watch an 8-6 loss than a 3-2 loss. if we’re not going to be a playoff team, i’d at least like to see some home runs. you get the idea.

  10. FolesWar

    May 08, 2014 04:40 PM

    Everyone loves the back up quarterback – until they get in the games. A Nick Foles happens 0.06% of the time. Tony Gwynn, Jr. is no Nick Foles. I personally like Ben & would definitely stick with him. But if he is benched, I’d prefer to see Marlon Byrd being moved to center + Ruff/JMJ/Dom/Ben/maybe even Cesar semi-platoon/hot hand combo in the corners & not Tony Jr. full-time.

  11. J. Weitzel

    May 08, 2014 04:51 PM

    Couldn’t agree more. The Phillies made a trade for Revere to be the center fielder. He’s youngish, has some tools (he could steal 50 bags this year), and most importantly, he’s the best option and best fit with this mix of players. You’re not going to sell me on Tony Gywnn Jr., a 31-year-old career minor leaguer, although he’s fine as a fifth outfielder. You want to cut bait with someone when Ruf comes back? Cut bait with John Mayberry Jr., which should have happened this offseason.

    These guys just lost 10-0 last night and aren’t hitting. They have no farm. So ride out the guys like Revere and Asche and see what you’ve got.

    • mark66

      May 09, 2014 07:53 AM

      No farm because of poor decisions made by the GM and front office.

  12. mark66

    May 09, 2014 07:43 AM

    I agree with you Bill but the root of the problem was the original decision by the GM and front office to make the trade. They new what they traded for. It ended with as usual a poor decision by the GM and front office. THIS is where we need to start. CHANGE the GM and front office so WE can make better decisions on the field. The truth hurts, STOP with the excuses.

    • amarosucks

      May 09, 2014 09:20 AM

      Amen.

      Revere stinks. He can run fast…that’s his only tool. He makes johnny damon’s arm look like andre dawson.

    • Pencilfish

      May 09, 2014 02:43 PM

      Mark66,

      Why do you think changing the GM and front office will solve all of
      the Phillies problems? The TRUTH is that the Phillies also need to
      change organizational philosophy at the ownership level, which
      means hiring a new GM/front office with a radically different
      philosophy. The Phillies problems in developing minor-league pitchers and hitters precede RAJ by a generation. A new GM and a change of organizational philosophy will take ~10 years to bear fruit at the major league level. There are NO quick solutions to take the Phillies back into contention.

      • mark66

        May 10, 2014 04:04 PM

        No, absolutely not. The right changes can bear fruit rather quickly. You have to make the changes and they need to be made, now. You can choose to disagree but I played long enough to understand when changes need to be made. Sorry, but it is what it is. And as I’ve said before–sometimes the truth hurts.

  13. T. Martin

    May 09, 2014 12:54 PM

    Any argument in favor of more opportunities for Ben Revere is a complete waste of time. Even the teams with worse records than the Phil’s have better CFers. I was in Minnesota for a Twins game last week and while chatting with some Twins fans I BEGGED them to take Revere back and they laughed pretty hard before they firmly said NO.

  14. AJ

    May 09, 2014 05:17 PM

    They should platoon revere and gwynn…..revere vs lefties and gwynn vs righties. both are not great anyways but this would maximize their production.

    • mark66

      May 10, 2014 04:11 PM

      There is some logic here. But this is just a stop gap solution. Make the changes at GM and the front office first. If the right changes are made results will follow. The Yankees have had the $$$ to make the necessary changes when they are needed. That’s why they are always in contention. The Phils have the $$$ like the Yankees but the Phils make bad decisions while the Yankees usually make good decisions. Case in point, the Phils letting the Yankees take Tanaka. And the Phils making a bone head move on Gonzalez.

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