2014 Phillies Report Card: Ben Revere

I am a malcontent idiot when it comes to baseball sometimes. I watched Ben Revere last year and saw only an empty-average, speed-compensating-for-instincts center fielder and thought, “well, I can put up with that, I guess.” At some points during this season, I still found myself biting a lip at his walk totals or banging a fist at his judgment in the field. He’s not a perfect player, but he’s better than I give him credit for, and his season should be remembered more purely than its caveats would have you believe it was.

There’s a lot to like about Revere’s 2014, even as the aforementioned caveats make some things clear about what his future should be with the team. In terms of raw production, the numbers are some of the best Revere has ever posted:

  • 184 hits: a career-high, N.L.-high and the most for any Phillies player since Jimmy Rollins had 212 and Aaron Rowand (?!?) had 189 in 2007.
  • 151 games played and 626 plate appearances, most for a Phillies CF since Shane Victorino in 2009.
  • 49 stolen bases in 57 attempts, good for an 85.97 percent success rate, one of two players to steal that well and that effectively this season (the other being A.L. hit champ Jose Altuve) and the first Phillies player to do so since Jimmy Rollins in 2008.
  • Two home runs, which, uh, what.

He challenged for the batting average title, which is kind of cool, and he’s now posted his two highest career marks in OPS, OPS+, wOBA, wRC+, you name it. Offensively, he’s doing his best work as he progresses through his mid-20s. Don’t expect him to turn into Darryl Strawberry anytime soon, but he’s at least keeping up and making some strides.

What’s more apparent is that Revere shouldn’t be a leadoff hitter. He amassed and will continue to amass sizable quantities of hits as a consequence of being an extreme contact hitter who bats first and DOES NOT WALK EVER. Look, you know where I’m about to go with this: hitting at the top of a sequence of hitters should be about getting on base for the more powerful hitters to do damage more efficiently. Revere’s OBP slid back to .325 overall, while his split-isolated OBP in the leadoff position was .332, tied with Coco Crisp for 19th among 37 hitters who led off 200-plus times in 2014. Prototypes, traditional usage, etc. etc.

If the Phillies either A) don’t land Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas at the likely $100M-plus commitment it’d take or B) don’t view Tomas as a CF, but instead a corner guy to play alongside Revere, look for a possible extension for Revere. Purely a hunch, but it’d seem to jive with the rationality of a team that has no other conceivably passable CF depth.

The fact of the matter boils down to this: Ben Revere is the best option in center field for this team, given both internal and external options at this point. He’s entering his Arb2 season and will see a fair hike on his $1.95M pay, given his full season of play and batting title contention, but the figure will stay in the, er, “modest” seven-digit range. What we’ve seen is likely what we’ll get in 2015, and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with having another three years of a player like Revere, and in a sea of bad financial commitments, his place on the ledger seems somewhat comforting. His 2014 season was what was expected and hoped for, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Grade: A-

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  1. MMM

    October 02, 2014 10:29 AM

    Here is my beef with the whole OBP angle.
    Every time we talk about Ryan Howard’s RBI totals, the argument against Ryan is that he gets so many RBI’s because he sees more baserunners than any other cleanup hitter in baseball. What a second. We are complaining that our leadoff hitter doesn’t walk enough, yet our cleanup hitter sees more baserunners than any other cleanup hitter. (And maybe somebody can look up where Utley ranks for the 3-hole hitter). What I am saying is that with all of the flaws that the Phillies have, it would seem that batters 1-2-3 getting on base in front of the cleanup hitter does not seem to be one of them. The problem is what Utley and Howard are doing with the baserunners. You know the one thing that bugged me about Moneyball was that they never mention in the movie that the A’s still had Chavez and Tejada who both could mash in the middle of the lineup. It wasn’t just about Scott Hatteberg walking or other guys walking, although that certainly was important and made a nice story. The Phillies don’t have mashers anymore. I’ll leave the worrying about Revere’s walks and where to bat him in the lineup when there are a guys in the 3- or 4- hole who can slug people in.

    • Ryan

      October 02, 2014 12:45 PM

      Yup. The offense was passable in the first two months when Utley was mashing…not so much once he wore down and was managed incorrectly.

    • Bill Baer

      October 02, 2014 01:07 PM

      FWIW, Moneyball (referring to the Athletics’ organizational philosophy) was not about on-base percentage specifically. It was simply a tool with which they used to find market inefficiencies. But, yes, the top-third getting on base was certainly not the Phillies’ problem.

    • Bob

      October 03, 2014 12:06 AM

      While the OBP for the 1-3 hitters is ok, the rest of the team is not good at getting on base, which probably adds to the Phillies offensive woes. For the 2014 season, the league average OBP was .314. Overall, Phillies had a .302 OBP good for 25th. Looking at players with 100 PAs, Phillies had four players above average. Their highest was Chooch who had about 60% of his ABs in the 6-9 whole.

      Glancing at the NL playoff teams, Dodgers had 11 players above average with a team OBP of .333. Pirates had 10 at or above avg with a team .330 OBP. Nationals only had six but their team OBP was .321. Giants were eight and .311. Last, Cards had seven and team OBP of .320.

      I mean, I agree that I’d like them to get two MVP caliber players for the 3 and 4 hole. But I think the team needs more players to get on base throughout the lineup to be competitive.

    • Hey

      October 04, 2014 04:06 PM

      I was thinking the same thing the other day. But I wondered if maybe other teams had more variance in their cleanup hitter spot. As opposed to the phillies batting Howard 4th almost every day. Thus giving him the most rbi chances easily.

  2. bubba0101

    October 02, 2014 12:49 PM

    This guy woulda been a perfect 8 hole hitter on our teams that smashed the ball. He woulda gotten so many rbis and then scored many more runs essentially being the lead off hitter before the lineup turned over. He’s extremely useful on a better team but his stats are being wasted as a true lead off. He is worth keeping around for when we get to be good again… If that ever happens.

  3. Murray

    October 02, 2014 01:08 PM

    First off, Tomas is purely a LF candidate and will never play CF, he’s a not a speedy guy. Second, I just hate the way that Revere plays CF. He takes terrible routes and can’t throw a lick. To me, a good team still needs to be strong up the middle defensively. I bet there are other CFs around baseball with lower batting averages but better OBP who play a much better CF than Revere. I don’t see Revere as a starting CF on a championship caliber team. He had a great year for his skills and I would trade him right now.

    • Bill Baer

      October 02, 2014 01:29 PM

      The 2010 Giants won the World Series with Aaron Rowand and Andres Torres in CF. The 2007 Red Sox won with Coco Crisp (83 OPS+) in center. As I wrote here, “A team does not need a superstar, or even an average player, at every position to be successful.”

      • Murray

        October 02, 2014 02:36 PM

        I’m referring to defensive needs only. Aaron Rowand was a terrific defensive CF in his day and Torres wasn’t bad either. Its rare to find a very good team with a bad defensive SS or CF. Obviously, Garry Maddox and Shane Victorino were both very good defensively on the Phillies’ two high caliber teams. We could probably live with Revere’s glove in LF, although we might want more from a LF bat. Defensively, Brown in LF and Revere in CF has been too awful to continue.

      • furtigan

        October 03, 2014 07:32 PM

        Thing is, Murray, the Phils aren’t going to be a very good team in 2015 or 2016. I think the idea is that Revere is an adequate enough placeholder until Quinn/Altherr/Dugan/Tocci develops and the team deals with more pressing problems.

  4. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    October 02, 2014 01:13 PM

    I say: trade him now, while he is at the peak of his value. OBP and slugging aside, there are still a lot of GMs in baseball who will look at a .306 average, nearly 50 steals, extremely good contact skills, decent defense in CF and an affordable contract with interest. Revere’s numbers actually look pretty similar to Denard Span’s in the year prior to his trade to the Nationals, except with a much higher average. If he could bring back what Span brought back–a guy who would immediately become the top pitching prospect in our system–that would be a huge coup. That’s the sort of move that smart rebuilding teams make–you’re not going to get a top prospect for Marlon Byrd, but you might for someone like Revere, especially with the speed game coming back in a big way. You think some other GMs saw what the Royals did on the basepaths in the later inning of their Wild Card game and thought, why don’t we do that?

    • DB9

      October 05, 2014 04:43 PM

      Its not the 1990s anymore, GMs don’t just trade the farm for an empty .300 hitter. Denard Span had a career .355 OBP when he was traded from Minnesota. Ben Revere has a career .324 OBP as of this moment and posted a .325 OBP this season.

      Additionally, Span, while not a slugger by any means had demonstrated more power. Revere has 2 career homers, Span hits about 5 or so a season. Furthermore, Span at the time of his trade had a career OPS+ of 104 with seasons as high as 122 in the past whereas Revere has a career OPS+ of an 86.with his career high being 93.

      In short, through this point in his career, Span had demonstrated a better ability to get on base, a better ability to hit for power, and was an overall slightly above average hitter whereas Revere despite his high average is still a slightly below average hitter. That is not even taking into consideration Span’s superior defensive capabilities.

      Unfortunately, the Phillies will not get anything near the return Minnesota got for Span in any hypothetical Revere trade. The best use of Revere right now is probably as a stop gap in CF until someone like Roman Quinn develops enough to take on the position.

  5. tbarr

    October 02, 2014 01:34 PM

    i’ve thought for years that utley was the best option at leadoff. it would’ve worked better when you had talent in the middle of the lineup. i think utley and ruiz were only players with better obp than revere,so wasn’t much to choose from.

    • Murray

      October 02, 2014 02:39 PM

      True but I’ve always wanted Utley batting 2nd and it looks like I might get my wish. Although, who the heck knows who will bat 3rd.

      • DB9

        October 05, 2014 04:47 PM

        I agree, I always figured Utley would have a long career and would transition from a stereotypical 3 hole hitter into a solid OBP guy in the 2 hole with decreased power.

  6. Chris

    October 02, 2014 05:11 PM

    How can you write an article and not even mention his defense? Sabremetrics stats rely a lot of defensive capabilities and Revere was one of the WORST defenders in all of baseball in one of its most important positions. Plus his lack of power made it that much more difficult for him to score.

    If Revere grades out to an A-, we have set really low standards are regards to expectations. He would get a D from me and be lucky to get that. If he is our CF for the next three years, management did not try to do much to upgrade the position, because Revere is probably one of the worst 2-3 CFs in baseball.

    • BobSmith

      October 03, 2014 05:52 PM

      Agreed and the biggest issue with Revere going ahead forward is that he is not longer going to be much of a value. Certainly isn’t worth paying $7-8M/year annually and as soon as his speed decreases a bit he’ll lose a lot of the value he does have.

      Giving Revere a 3-yr extension this offseason would be a mistake unless the Phils somehow think his defense can notably improve in CF starting next year.

  7. Andrew R.

    October 02, 2014 07:40 PM

    Tony LaRussa would bat him 9th and the pitcher 8th… But I would like to see him bat 8th at least. If he gets on, maybe he can steal and then get bunted over depending on the situation. Although I did just read an article about our 9-hole hitters on the year. Maybe they could drive him in, lol.

    • DB9

      October 05, 2014 04:54 PM

      On the surface I agree with you that Revere is miscast as a leadoff hitter. But we need to remember this isn’t the 2007 Phils lineup following him up.

      Revere’s .325 OBP was third on the team trailing only Ruiz and Utley. Rollins was right there too with a .323 OBP. Thing is, on this team, batting Revere leadoff actually is not really that big of a mistake. Putting Revere, Rollins and Utley in the top 3 batters is just about as well as the Phils can do at the top of the lineup which is a sad commentary on the state of the lineup.

      So yes, ideally Revere should be closer to the bottom of the lineup, but once you look at the construction of the team, there really isn’t much in the way of better options for the top of order. Until there is, I am okay with Revere as a tablesetter.

  8. Francisco

    October 05, 2014 08:51 AM

    I know people cry about his walk rate, but I’m sure I read somewhere that it’s not really his fault, he sees very few balls and lots of strikes. With almost no power pitchers don’t have a reason to pitch selectively. They just challenge him over and over since they know most of the time the worst that can a happen is a single anyway.

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