Analysis

Time To Change the Revere Narrative

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Revere’s legs put the Phillies ahead for good yesterday. Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson

Ben Revere was traded to the Phillies on December 6, 2012 for popular, but injury-bitten starter Vance Worley and former top prospect Trevor May. Revere came to the Phillies fresh off a 2012 where he hit .294/.333/.342 with 40 steals in 49 attempts as a 24-year old player. Revere combined those stats with excellent play in center and right fields for the Twins, stunning crowds with his glove and winning MLB Network’s GIBBY Award.

After an exciting Spring Training where Revere hit .326/.368/.382 with 10 steals in 13 attempts, the Phillies looked like they were getting exactly the player they traded for, except that maybe he was even better, with a year more experience.

You wouldn’t believe that if you read the opinion of fans: here, here, here, here, etc. Some of those comments came in the middle of a four hit game last night, where Revere was almost single-handedly responsible for the game winning run, using his speed to bunt for a base hit, go first to third, and then take home on a ground ball to first base. All of them came during Revere’s recent tear: since May 5, Revere has hit .321/.362/.376 with nine steals in 11 attempts, raising his average by 62 points in that time frame.

The point being: Ben Revere is exactly who he is supposed to be. And he’s a pretty good ball player. It’s time to change the inaccurate narrative surrounding him among Phillies fans.

Let’s explore, if you will, how we got to this “Ben Revere sucks” narrative. Admittedly, Revere had a horrible month of April, hitting just .200/.234/.222 with just five steals in seven attempts and as many GIDP as steals.But this kind of outage is not new for Revere, or any ballplayer for that matter. All hitters go through hot and cold stretches and Revere ended 2012 hitting just .217/.283/.261 with 11 steals in 12 chances in his last 40 games after hitting .317/.346/.370 to that point.

And Revere narrowly missing a series of spectacular catches, including last night and the memorable near miss in Washington, has fans up in arms. Most center fielders don’t get to those balls, yet alone narrowly miss them.

Or it could be that fans are angry that maybe the Phillies gave up too much for Revere in Worley and May. This guy is and our own Corey and Eric Seidman’s pop Randy thinks the trade was horrible for both sides. Yet, Twins fans certainly don’t feel that way, as evident here, here, here, here, etc.

And the numbers don’t bear it out, either. Let’s call a spade a spade: Vance Worley doesn’t look like Major League-caliber pitcher this year, yet alone an asset that would net you a starting 24-year old center fielder. In ten starts, Worley averaged under five innings per appearance, with a 7.21 ERA (highest in the AL among pitchers with 40+ IP), a career-low 4.62 K/9 IP, and a career-high 1.99 WHIP. The pitching-strapped Twins sent their Opening Day starter down to Triple-A, where, to give Worley credit, he threw a five-hit shutout last night.

The 23-year old May is repeating Double-A this season and is fairing a bit better than he did in his first trip with Reading in 2012 but has quietly slipped off the prospect radar. May has a career-low 8.53 K/9 IP, a 4.71 BB/9 IP, a 1.53 WHIP, and a 3.95 ERA – numbers that aren’t bad but ones that certainly aren’t begging for a promotion to Triple-A.

To be fair to the Revere detractors, a lot of Revere’s success comes down to luck. Revere is leading MLB with 64.9% of his batted balls ending up on the ground. And his recent success, batting average-wise, has come because of an inflated .357 BABIP. But this is exactly the type of player Revere is – hit the ball on the ground and run. With the bunt last night, we saw the benefit of having an extra runner, in this case, the winning run, on base. And after turning just 25 in May, Revere has a lot of life left in those legs and projects to be this type of player through his early 30’s.

The most confusing part of this puzzle is the muffled enthusiasm for Revere – he has been well over a .300 hitter in the past 30 days and, short of Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee, the Phillies best player, and came over in a trade that is slowly tipping in the favor of the Phillies with each bunt for a base hit and stolen base. It’s time to assess Revere fairly and give kudos where they are due before a lot of folks end up with egg on their face like they did with Brown. It’s the perfect time to hop on Revere’s bandwagon before it gets too crowded – he is an excellent player that has been defined by an inaccurate narrative.

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