Ben Revere Has Turned His Season Around

When the Phillies lost the final two games of a three-game set in Cincinnati and returned home on June 10, Ben Revere was not well-liked among Phillies fans. He was hitting a meager .282 and had made a number of poor defensive plays in center field, leading to the pitching staff giving up unnecessary amounts of runs en route to losses in otherwise winnable games. He hit his first career home run back on May 27, leading to some amusement, but he carried a .631 OPS when the Padres came into Philadelphia. Hardly the performance that makes one think “cornerstone of the franchise”.

Since then, particularly over the last two weeks, Revere has turned his season around and has been one of only two Phillies swinging the bat well as of late. Since June 26 (12 games), Revere has seven multi-hit games and is 6-for-7 stealing bases. He now has 26 total, the third-highest total in the National League behind Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton. He has a 90 percent success rate overall, having attempted to steal 29 times.

Revere is also hitting .292 with a .314 on-base percentage. His .294 weighted on-base average is still sub-standard, but a .314 OBP out of the lead-off spot is passable, as the league average (with pitchers excluded) is .320.

In fact, Revere’s numbers this season are similar to what he put up with the Minnesota Twins in 2012, which made him an attractive trade target:

  • 2012: .294/.333/.342 (2.6 rWAR; 3.0 fWAR)
  • 2014: .292/.314/.351 (-0.4 rWAR; 1.0 fWAR)

The difference in on-base percentage is due to a two percent lower walk rate, and a few stray hit-by-pitches.

The difference in WAR between the two seasons is defense. FanGraphs credits Revere with +14.9 UZR in 2012 and -1.5 this season. Baseball Reference puts his 2012 at +8 and -13 this season. Obviously, single-season defensive stats are to be taken with a massive grain of salt, but the overarching point is that if Revere is to be the Phillies’ everyday center fielder going forward — even if it is to bridge the gap between now and when they are legitimately competitive again several years down the road — he has to make positive strides defensively, ending the trend of defensive regression that we have seen in his time with the Phillies.

Contrary to popular belief, Revere can be a productive player for the Phillies. He will never be a Mike Trout or even a Shane Victorino, but an average to an above-average everyday center fielder nonetheless. Considering that Revere is still 26 years old and that he will be under team control for the next three seasons, the Phillies should be happy they made the trade with the Twins for Revere, despite Vance Worley‘s newfound success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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20 comments

  1. edwin

    July 08, 2014 08:16 AM

    The only problem I have ever had with Revere is that he has the arm of a seventy year old. I also think he should be stealing more and using his speed more often. Is there any hope for improvement in these areas?

    • Richard

      July 08, 2014 09:27 AM

      The value of a throwing arm is wildly overrated by fans.

      • Dan R

        July 08, 2014 01:22 PM

        Yes, the arm alone isn’t that significant. His main issue defensively is…well everything, including his arm.

        As Bill already noted, defensive stats taken with a grain of salt…but also not completely ignored.

        Fangraphs says he’s been worth -19 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in 2013-2014 combined. The only outfielders who rank below him for that same time period are:

        Tori Hunter -23
        Shin-Soo Choo -25
        Matt Kemp -27

        Just for fun, in that same time period Delmon Young checks in with -10 (all of it last year with the Phillies), Domonic Brown with -12 and John Mayberry with -13…that’s some good outfield defense!

        After that, I had to check the team statistics and it’s not surprising that Phillies outfielders are dead last in MLB at -65 runs saved in 2013-2014. Wow.

  2. tom b

    July 08, 2014 08:33 AM

    not sure about whether 2 good weeks constitute turning your season around. having said that, i haven’t been as down on revere as most of the writers and fans. to me,he is reasonably cheap and does enough good things to be somewhat valuable. i think he may be better served playing leftfield. just replace 1 lousy singles hitter with a better singles hitter. my biggest problem with revere isn’t on him,but the fact that amaro is still trading for baseball players based on avg or rbi’s. he is the only one chasing those kind of players.

  3. Carmine

    July 08, 2014 08:37 AM

    We know Worley flamed out in Minnesota and has found new life in Pittsburgh. What is Trevor May doing in the Twins’ farm system? Is he close to ready for prime time?
    It should be remembered that in the same offseason, Washington GM Mike Rizzo gave up a top pitching prospect, Alex Meyer, for Denard Span, even up. Amaro gives up a major league starter, however flawed, and a pitching prospect for Ben Revere who cannot hit as well as Span and who cannot field remotely as well as Span. This is another example of Amaro’s incompetence, especially if May becomes a decent big league pitcher.

    • Bill Baer

      July 08, 2014 09:04 AM

      I’m much happier with the trade Amaro made for Revere than the one Rizzo made for Span. Remember, you don’t analyze trades with information you learn after the fact; you have to consider only the information that was available at the time.

      May is having a pretty good year at Triple-A Rochester in the Twins’ system. Here’s his page on B-R if you’re interested: www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=may—001tre

      Chris Crawford wrote him up at ESPN: insider.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/story/_/id/11123061/top-10-fantasy-baseball-prospects-analyzing-trevor-value-fantasy-baseball (Insider required)

    • MattWinks

      July 08, 2014 09:30 AM

      May + Worley is nowhere close to Meyer. During that offseason the Phillies had nothing close to Alex Meyer, right now most sources have Meyer as a Top 20-25 prospect and a #2/#3 starter in the major leagues. The Phillies did not have the pieces to acquire Span.

      • tom b

        July 08, 2014 09:39 AM

        and revere is nowhere near span imo. and again i’m not anti revere, just seems to me that amaro is the only guy to chase after that kind of player. love him as a 4th outfielder maybe even as a starter in the al where you bat him 9th

  4. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    July 08, 2014 09:33 AM

    Here’s a hypothetical question: if the Phillies are sellers at the deadline, would you take the package similar to what they gave up for Revere originally (cost-controlled back-end starter/high-upside AA pitcher with command issues to work out) for him? I think that would be a reasonable deal, especially considering the fact that Revere has been merely replacement level

  5. Francisco (FC)

    July 08, 2014 09:53 AM

    Revere is also hitting .292 with a .314 on-base percentage. His .294 weighted on-base average is still sub-standard, but a .314 OBP out of the lead-off spot is passable, as the league average (with pitchers excluded) is .320.

    Wouldn’t a more apt comparison be with the OBP of all hitters in the lead-off spot, which presumably will be a higher average?

      • tom b

        July 08, 2014 10:36 AM

        give you credit for sticking with revere as per your article in may. i don’t advocate replacing him for the sake of change. phils have zero alternatives that i can see. i know you need to come up with a catchy headline,which has to be tough with this team,but 3 wks ago it was mayberry quietly having a good season and now it’s rever has turned his season around. small sample sizes often skew reality. just saying

      • Bill Baer

        July 08, 2014 10:50 AM

        Re: Mayberry, just to provide an update: I posted that article on June 13. Since then, he’s hit for a .398 OPS (not on-base percentage; on-base plus slugging). Six singles, one double, six walks in 59 plate appearances.

        16 of his 59 plate appearances (27%) have come against left-handed hitters. When I wrote the article, he had seen lefties in 57% of plate appearances. I praised Sandberg then for judicious use of Mayberry, but then he went and made me look bad! Now the platoon split is 44%.

        Even still, though, Mayberry hasn’t done too much against lefties since then. Just one walk and one double in 16 plate appearances in that span of time. 7 fly outs, 4 ground outs, 3 strikeouts.

  6. Bob

    July 08, 2014 10:32 AM

    Out of qualifying CFs per Fangraphs, Revere is 16/20 in OBP. He’s 18/20 in SLG, but he’s dead last in ISO. He’s 17/20 in wOBA and same in wRC+. He’s 19/20 in walk %. But he’s first – by a wide margin, even beating Hamilton – in BSR.

    As for fielding in CF, he’s 19th in DRS. His ARM is actually better than Ellsbury, Jennings, and Fowler at 14th best. Hes’ 8th in RngR and 15th in ErrR. He’s 11th in UZR/150 and is much, much better than those at the bottom.

    Since the beginning of the season, he’s shown defensive improvement through the metrics after starting off bad. His DRS numbers are terrible, but UZR has been kind to him as he might get to the plus side of the divide by the end of the year.

    His hitting statistics are still awful compared to other starters at this same position. He needs sustained improvement for more than the small sample size of two weeks and needs to improve on his 11 total extra base hits or else get on base at a much higher clip. If he has no gap power, pitchers will continue to throw strikes in hopes of inducing groundballs and his walk rate will remain low. Despite a .319 overall BABIP this year, a .317 lifetime BABIP, and projected BABIPs of .308-.319 by Oliver and Steamer, Revere is up to a .346 BABIP in July. He had a .344 BABIP last year after 336 PAs. If he can beat the projections and his half year production by posting a .340ish BABIP he might be more than just a baserunning whiz. But this will be difficult with a 67.5% gb rate.

    • tom b

      July 08, 2014 10:38 AM

      spot on

  7. glovesdroppa

    July 08, 2014 07:21 PM

    Good article, Bill. Some people complain about this guy like he’s a bum. First, he shouldn’t be playing CF because of his arm. He’s a younger Juan Pierre, he’d be much better suited for left field. Offensively, other than the bunting issue, Revere is one of our more productive and cost-efficient players. There’s literally $60mil worth of players who should be getting much more flack than Revere. Jimmy is hitting in the .240s, Howard is basically Adam Dunn, Utley has been pretty cold for a month, Chooch and Adams have missed a ton of games

    • eddie

      July 09, 2014 11:36 AM

      No, he’s an OLDER, and much less effective, Juan Pierre.

      At 26, the same age Revere is now, Pierre hit .326/.374/.407 and played well above-average CF. He’d already had two other .300 seasons by then. It was also his last really good season, because, as is typical both for guys whose game is overwhelmingly based on speed, and who don’t have plate discipline, Pierre peaked earlier than the average player. See also: Willie Wilson, Vince Coleman, Omar Moreno.

      Revere can be “a productive player” in the sense of a decent bench guy,” but there is no evidence that he is ever likely to be “an average to an above-average everyday center fielder ” He has 1700 major league at bats and a .657 OPS. He plays an important position adequately, but only adequately. And he’s 26, which given his speed-based game, means there’s no reason to think he gets much better.

      • Dan K.

        July 09, 2014 01:31 PM

        Different run-scoring environment. Pierre had a career wRC+ of 85; Ben’s is 82 and is depressed by his rookie campaign (he’s had years of 87, 92, and 85 since then).

        Also, his career UZR/150 is 5.5 in CF. Looking at the seasonal splits, it’s interesting to note that his arm was always terrible (worse than Revere’s); his good years his range factor shot way up. Now I’d venture a guess that his speed didn’t fluctuate, but that he just had good years and bad years at reading the ball. Oddly enough, those good years account for about 40% of his defensive innings at CF. Meanwhile, Ben also had one very good (abbreviated) year at CF (2011) due to his range. That year accounts for about 32% of Revere’s career defensive innings.

        So what, Pierre was a better defensive CF 8% of the time? Keep in mind Ben has a SSS in CF still.

      • eddie

        July 10, 2014 08:02 PM

        Yes, he is nearly as good as Juan Pierre. If you think “nearly as good as Juan Pierre” equates to “an average to an above-average everyday center fielder ,” we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  8. Blase

    July 09, 2014 11:26 AM

    The thing to remember about Ben’s defensive metrics from 2012 is that the majority of positive value came in RF (~700 innings), not CF (~300 innings). His metrics in CF weren’t that great back then either.

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