Ben Revere On Pace For A Phillies First

It’s September 3 and center fielder Ben Revere is batting .311 with 42 stolen bases. With eight more bags, and holding his .300-plus batting average through the end of the season — which, if he gets 100 more at-bats, would require him to bat .230 or worse — Revere could become the first Phillie to bat better than .300 with 50 or more steals.

Sherry Magee came the closest to accomplishing the feat, batting .331 with 49 stolen bases in 1910. Only two have come close in the modern era, as you can see on the list of Phillies to bat .300 with 40-plus steals:

Player Year BA SB Age Tm
Ben Revere 2014 .310 40 26 PHI
Bobby Abreu 2004 .301 40 30 PHI
Milt Thompson 1987 .302 46 28 PHI
Hans Lobert 1913 .300 41 31 PHI
Sherry Magee 1910 .331 49 25 PHI
Sherry Magee 1907 .328 46 22 PHI
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/2/2014.

If we lower the batting average threshold to .295, Jimmy Rollins‘ MVP-award-winning 2007 season (.296, 41) joins the list.

Even expanding the field to include all major leaguers, the feat is relatively rare. It has been accomplished only nine times since the start of 2000 and there have been no such occurrences since 2009:

Player Year BA SB Age Tm
Carl Crawford 2009 .305 60 27 TBR
Jacoby Ellsbury 2009 .301 70 25 BOS
Carl Crawford 2007 .315 50 25 TBD
Hanley Ramirez 2007 .332 51 23 FLA
Carl Crawford 2006 .305 58 24 TBD
Jose Reyes 2006 .300 64 23 NYM
Juan Pierre 2003 .305 65 25 FLA
Ichiro Suzuki 2001 .350 56 27 SEA
Luis Castillo 2000 .334 62 24 FLA
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/2/2014.

It’s been done 57 times in the 69 seasons since 1945.

Obviously, rarity does not beget productivity — Revere’s .307 wOBA is the fourth-worst among qualified center fielders, beating only Leonys Martin, Billy Hamilton, and B.J. Upton — but Revere has put together a nice season that could be a springboard for the future. If any progress can be made defensively, he could be quite a useful player going forward.

As an addendum, Revere could also become the first Phillie to lead the league in batting since Richie Ashburn in 1958. He is two points behind Josh Harrison and is narrowly ahead of Justin Morneau. Hot streaks by Andrew McCutchen, Aramis Ramirez, and Buster Posey could also interfere with Revere’s chances.

Edit: As John Stolnis pointed out to me on Twitter, Ed Delahanty accomplished the feat in 1898. Baseball Reference’s Play Index stops at 1901, so that’s why it was omitted.

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  1. Bob

    September 03, 2014 08:12 AM

    Ben Revere is in constant pain because of his ankle. He grimaces when he starts out of the box. The pain is palpable on his face when he pulls into a bag or makes a running grab in center. He’s going to have to have another surgical to remove the screws in his ankle. There’s no point in continuing to trot out an injured player who needs surgery. The Phillies aren’t going to win anything this year. Let him get surgery now and start the recovery process for next year. This would give him plenty of time to be ready for Spring Training. The goal of any player is to win the WS and personal accomplishments are secondary to that. An injured player should not be playing when there’s no shot at the postseason.

    • MMM

      September 03, 2014 09:58 AM

      “Ben Revere is in constant pain because of his ankle.” — IS IN or looks like he is in. Did he tell you this?

      “He’s going to have to have another surgical (sic) to remove the screws in his ankle.” — Are you a sports physician?

      I will only offer an opinion. I think it would be cool to have a Phillie win the batting title. Ben is not a 21-year old potential ace or a great young talent that needs to be handled with kid gloves for a couple seasons. He could be a neat little component in a WS team, but he is certainly nothing to build around and if he never plays another game after this season because he tried to play thru an injury, it’s not going to set the Phillies back any more than they already are. I am not his accountant, father, minister, or life coach to tell him to give it a rest. So if he wants to do it and accomplishes it, it won’t make me unhappy. I wasn’t alive in 1958 when Ashburn did it. So it has some significance, albeit very small. But sometimes individual accomplishments are important in my opinion.

  2. Matt

    September 03, 2014 08:16 AM

    But, he isn’t really on track for it. He is on track for 49 steals. So your headline is well, you know, false.

    • Bill Baer

      September 03, 2014 01:00 PM

      You do realize you’re quibbling over two-tenths?

      (42*162)/138 = 49.3, if it’s 49.5, we round up to 50.

      One could also argue that since stolen bases are discrete, exceeding 49 at all could be cause to round up to 50.

      • Matt

        September 04, 2014 08:47 AM

        Just saying that your headline is wrong. It is quibbling over tenths, but he isn’t on track.

  3. jerome

    September 03, 2014 11:27 AM

    Notably, Jose Altuve will reach that goal this year (unless he goes on a 67-AB hitless streak), but it would be nice to see Revere do it as well. I think he can do it, especially in these last few weeks where there’s really nothing to lose.

    • Chris

      September 03, 2014 03:21 PM

      Its amazing how we constantly pile on Howard for being just a bad player, especially on defense…. yet Revere is worse defender (3rd worst defender in all of baseball in runs saved.) He will most likely have the lowest walk rate in history with an average of .300 0r higher. He has 0 extra base power. In terms of CF, he has somewhere around the 4th worst range in all of baseball.

      Yes, he is good at slapping singles and getting IF hits, and stealing bases. But his OPS+ is 94, where league average is 100. His OBP going into today was .329 despite hitting .310 which is still pedestrian at best.

      So in terms of advanced numbers, he is a below average hitter and one of the worst defenders in all of baseball…. and yet he is having a fine season? I cant say I agree. He cant advance runners, he has no power (he still doesnt have 20 XBH), cant walk, cant throw.

      Wait until rube gives him a 4-5 year extension around 50-55 million. I hope we still all praise his infield hits.

      • tbarr

        September 03, 2014 04:08 PM

        i don’t think howard gets hammered about his defense. it’s his lack of offense that is the problem. not sure why people keep trying to make excuses for one player by throwing other ones under the bus. howard is just as lousy no matter what anyone else does. oh yeah, reveres contract isn’t hamstringing the team either

      • Dan K.

        September 03, 2014 04:19 PM

        Howard’s biggest flaw is not his own, it’s the contract.

        But even ignoring the fact that Revere is still cheap, you ignore the facts that:

        1) Revere plays CF. Whatever you may think of his defense, he’s a better defender than Howard. Period. Maybe he shouldn’t be playing CF, but it’s not his fault that management puts him there. Stick him in a corner and watch his defensive metrics soar. Stick Howard anywhere other than 1B and you might as well just submit the footage to America’s Funniest Home Videos (does that show still exist?). So maybe Revere is bad at a premier defensive position, but he’d be better lower at the spectrum. Howard is bad at the easiest spot on the diamond.

        2) He has speed. Howard’s carrying tool used to be power. Which is not to say his power is completely gone, but it is diminished and his lack of contact skills make it almost non-existent. Revere, on the other hand, still boasts top of the charts speed which helps on both offense and defense.

        3) Revere is an excellent baserunner. While Howard (once upon a time) was good at getting runners home, Revere is good at getting there without much help.

        4) Ben is perhaps the best contact hitter in all of baseball. You say that he can’t advance a runner, but that is false. If advancing the runner is your only objective, then the best thing to do is put the ball in play. Revere does that. He essentially does not strike out. True you aren’t likely to see a runner score from first, but you are also not likely to see a double play.

        Now I’m not saying Revere doesn’t have his flaws. No one is mistaking him for Trout. Some of the things you mentioned (bad arm, no power) are true, but you’re ignoring his positives. Howard on the other hand has basically two positives: he can still hit some homeruns and he walks a fair bit of the time. But even those advantages are completely cancelled out by his inability to hit in general. Revere has his uses, and actually has some upside left (if his defense is capable of improving). Howard, on the other hand, has basically no use left to this or any team. I feel bad for him, but it’s true.

        By the way, it is unwise to use one season’s worth of defensive stats. While Revere’s 2012-2014 DRS isn’t good by any means, he isn’t even in the 10 worst qualifying OF. Howard, on the other hand, doesn’t even qualify but is better than only Prince Fielder of 1B with 2000+ defensive innings. And if you go back further, he and Prince are basically fighting for the worst defensive 1B in baseball.

      • George Callanan

        September 04, 2014 06:55 AM

        Thanks Mr. Negative.

  4. Chris

    September 03, 2014 06:51 PM

    I made this comment the other day to someone. When you have to compare Revere to Howard to boost how good Revere is, you really are setting your sights low. Howard has been awful this year. I think he got better in August, but the days of 35-40 HRs are gone. If he starts next year and gives us a .250 average with .340 OBP with 25-30 HRs, thats about the best we can hope for.

    As for Revere. His OPS+ is below average for a player. Defensively, he is horrible. You can look at any defensive statistics you want, and Revere comes out as a negative in all aspects.

    So if you are a below average hitter and a bad defender – why in the world should this guy be kept? People say he can improve, but he has been the same type of player ever since the minors.

    Him winning the batting title would be the worst thing to happen to the Phillies this year. Why you ask? Because Amaro wont be fired, and use this as a mean of giving him a 5-6 year deal for somewhere between 55-65 million.

    And remember, he has injuries the last two years, and he will be getting older, and his speed will be the first thing to go. If we can trade him in the offseason even for a prospect, you have to do it.

    • ASK

      September 04, 2014 06:58 AM

      “When you have to compare Revere to Howard to boost how good Revere is, you really are setting your sights low.”

      That’s a straw-man. Who needs to compare Revere to Howard to boost how good Revere is? For that matter, if you are going to compare Revere to anyone, Howard would be the Phillie who is least similar to Revere. One is a big, slow, high K power hitter who plays a relatively easy position. The other is a small, great base-running, low K singles hitter who plays one of the toughest and most important positions on the diamond.

      By the way, who is even saying Revere is good? Bill says he’s put together a NICE season and that he COULD be quite useful if he improves his defense. Offensively, Revere is getting on base at an above league average pace (.331 vs. league average of .312) while producing more runs on the base paths than any other National Leaguer. That’s a combination that makes him valuable on offense despite his lack of power. Defensively, he has been bad, but how bad and how costly depends upon which metric you use. When Fangraphs and Baseball Reference very so much on a player’s defense, I take the average of the two. As such, Revere has produced 1.1 WAR so far this year, which is somewhere around the nice season that Bill mentions. If his defense improves, he could be a 2+ WAR player, which would make him quite useful.

      What’s your real quibble?

      • ASK

        September 06, 2014 06:27 AM

        “…offensively his production for an every day player is below average.”

        When you wrote this, it was factually incorrect unless you exclude base-running from offense. Now that his wRC+ is at 100, he’s average with the bat and even better offensively when you include base-running.

        If you want to harp on the guy’s defense this year, you’ll get no argument from me. However, I’m not completely convinced that, as bad as Ben’s defense has been this year, that this year is who Ben is as a defensive player. As Bob points out above, Ben is playing on a bad wheel. When you compare his defense in CF this year to his career numbers in CF prior to this year, you see that this year may be an outlier and that the drop-off is quite possibly due to the injury. Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that Ben’s range is much worse in 1,020 innings in CF than it was in the 1,831 innings in CF prior to this season?

    • George Callanan

      September 04, 2014 07:27 AM

      If a guy hits the most home runs do you focus on his number of strike outs? If a guy has the lowest ERA do you focus on his high number of walks? If a guy has the most steals , do you focus on his lack of extra base hits? king Chris does. Give us all a break. If Revere wins the batting average title you can focus on his flaws but its only been 58 years since a Phillie did this but according to you it means nothing.

      • Chris

        September 04, 2014 01:29 PM

        Again, offensively his production for an every day player is below average. His defense is below average.

        Getting hyped up about infield singles is like getting hyped about RBIs. There is more to the game. I get it. He is low cost, a nice guy, media friendly. But in reality, Revere is a really bad baseball player. His OBP of .331 is actually LOWER than what people complained with about Rollins back in the day when he led off.

        He has zero power.
        He has no arm.
        His range is one of the worst in baseball.

        But since he slaps a few hits and steals a base once every 3-4 games…. this is a guy thats having a nice season? Other than BJ Upton, there isnt a contender who would start Revere this year in CF.

    • Chris S.

      September 04, 2014 08:50 AM

      One thing that makes Revere an average player is his speed. He is the best in the league when it comes to base running. Or at least that is what Fangraphs tells me.

      • Chris S.

        September 04, 2014 12:17 PM

        I should clarify that above statement, to say that his below average hitting and defense + his speed make him an average player. His base running is elite and it is sorely needed on a team that has a lot of station to station players.

  5. westcoastphilliesfan

    September 04, 2014 12:30 AM

    Nothing to do with Ben Revere, but has anyone else noticed how bad Nate Schierholtz has been this year? 2013 and 2014 combined he has produced 0.2 bWAR and been paid over $7 million.

    Kevin Frandsen, on the other hand, at least has the virtue of only being paid $900,000 for his 0.0 bWAR in 2014.

    • ASK

      September 04, 2014 07:03 AM

      Yes, Nate has struggled this year to get on base on balls in play (.219 BABIP) and with power (.113 ISO and 6.7% HR/FB).

  6. MMM

    September 05, 2014 04:51 AM

    “Him winning the batting title would be the worst thing to happen to the Phillies this year. ”


    I am sure all the Bob’s and Chris’s on here are great guys and I would love to sit and have a beer and talk about the Phillies, but this thing with the batting title is really baffling. As if thru some great power of Nostradamus, the Phillies future is foreseen to hinge on Revere losing the batting title. Sorry, but I find that ridiculous. It is no small feat to win a batting title unless you play for the Rockies and it would be a highlight of the dismal season. Why dismiss an individual accomplishment that gives a small level of historical distinction to one of our own players on the team we are supposed to be rooting for?

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