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.