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:
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.