A Little Horsey Named Ben Revere

Revere ranked 25th in Zach Sanders’ 2014 rankings among outfielders.

It’ll probably come off as a copout, but there isn’t much we don’t know about Ben Revere at this point.

For a guy who is super jacked physically, he has no power. The proof of that goes on and on. He’s slugged .340 in his career. He has two career home runs — both came this year. In over 2000 career plate appearances, he has just 44 doubles. Even the 21 triples for someone with his speed is disappointing.

Revere can hit; make no mistake about it he can put the bat on the ball. Since becoming a full-time regular, Revere is 30th in batting average at .293. Cut out his .267 from his rookie season and he jumps to 17th.

A similar exercise has Revere fourth in the MLB in contact rate since 2011 at 92.5 percent, behind Jeff Keppinger (?!?), Juan Pierre and Marco Scutaro and ahead of former outfield mate Denard Span. Narrow that band to the last three years again, and Revere is second to Scutaro, ahead of Span. Interestingly enough, Michael Brantley is fourth — but more on that another day.

Smartly, Revere’s bread and butter is the ground ball. Since coming into the league nobody has hit a higher percentage of grounders than Revere’s 65.3 percent. Strike line drives from the record — because they’re inherently awesome — and Revere has the lowest fly ball rate in baseball over that time at 14.2 percent.

Revere is a lot of things; keenly aware of what his value is seems to be one of them.

Given Revere’s speed — read: 145 career steals at an average of 43 per 600 plate appearances — it makes sense that his speed and groundball proclivity have worked out for him to hit .291 in his career. And for him to do so with a BABIP of .321, which is still drug down a bit by his rookie season at .293. For instance, the last three years combined his BABIP is .332. Among hitters with 1,500 or more plate appearances in that time frame, that ranks 23rd with the likes of Ian Desmond, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano. Solid, but not insane.

Something that gave me pause about Revere’s future value, but has since been assuaged, was the broken right ankle which cost him basically the entire second half of the 2013 season — 78 days and 67 games in all. Any foot injury to a speedster can seriously sap their value, but Revere managed to still do Ben Revere things this year — like set a career high in steals with 49 and batting average at .306 — so that wasn’t such a huge concern anymore.

But there is one thing about Revere’s season that is still a bit…troubling? Ben walked in just 2.1 percent of his plate appearances. For an off-the-wall comparison, Phil Hughes — who just set an all-time K/BB record — walked hitters in just 1.9 percent of plate appearances. For the longest time down the stretch last year, Revere and Hughes were neck and neck. Revere walked twice in September and was hit by a pitch. That surge of activity pushed him past Hughes, who walked just one hitter — Chicago’s Jordan Danks — from Aug. 16 on.

Only five qualified hitters in the last 20 years have had lower walk rates than Revere’s 2.1 last year. Well, actually four. Shawon Dunston did it twice — 1995 and 1997 — while a clearly done Ivan Rodriguez did it in 2007. Glove-first shortstop Tony Pena also did it in 2007, and the incomparable Ozzie Guillen did it in 1996. Revere’s 2.1 is tied with a few others, including A.J. Pierzynski, Rodriguez again, Deivi Cruz and Carlos Baerga.

As for those ahead of Revere on the list, Dunston had pop, so it salvaged his season(s) as he posted a .339 and a .330 wOBA. Rodriguez was next at .308, with Pena (.280) and Guillen (.278) next. What I’m getting at is Revere’s walk trends appear to be moving downward; that’s all they’ve done as long as he’s been in the big leagues (5.4-> 5.2-> 4.8-> 2.1).

I’m not sure it can go any lower. But Revere’s ceiling is severely stunted as is fantasy-wise. He’s a great asset in batting average and steals leagues, but those leagues also usually count RBI (his career-high is 32) and runs (he’s somehow never scored 75). For a player who can so easily find himself in scoring position via contact rates and stolen bases, it is a bit dubious that he hasn’t scored more runs.

In more stats-savvy leagues Revere hurts you in on-base percentage and slugging, and he has a career wOBA of .295 if you’re into linear weights or anything even further up the geekery totem pole like I am. I touted Revere as a cheap alternative to Billy Hamilton last season and I think he delivered. But now, I’m not convinced his future value is as high — and it was always stunted for me, keep in mind — if the walks continue to peter out. Revere isn’t the kind of hitter pitchers will be afraid to bully with boring fastballs in. He’s still quick enough to them to do something, but not much with them.

As weird as it sounds, I think I’m going to be hands off on Revere next year. He did a nice job returning a No. 53 overall preseason value by checking in at No. 25 — after J.D. Martinez, ahead of the likes of Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward and No. 26 Mr. Hamilton — but I’m not sure I’m crazy about him going into the future.

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In addition to Rotographs, Warne writes about the Minnesota Twins for The Athletic and is a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

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Ceej
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Ceej

In those same savvy leagues, isn’t Billy Hamilton also a bad pick? He also doesn’t walk or get on base enough and figures to be overpriced.