Friday, February 17, 2012

What to Watch in 2012: Revere's Average

When he was a prospect coming up through the minors, Ben Revere showed promise as a lightning-fast outfielder who could make things happen with his legs and with his glove. He was drafted in the first round in 2007, put himself on the map by leading the Midwest League with a .379 average in 2008 and graduated to the majors by the age of 22.

Revere's projected value in the bigs is overstated by minor-league numbers that include a .326/.385/.408 slash line and 154 stolen bases over parts of five seasons. His ability to terrorize opponents on the base paths will only be an asset if he's getting on at a steady clip, and since he's not going to be able to do so by coaxing walks, his offensive value will largely hinge on his ability to hit for average.

While rising through the Twins' system, Revere never walked in more than 8 percent of his plate appearances at any level. It's not hard to see why; he likes to swing and put the ball in play, and pitchers at higher levels aren't afraid to throw him strikes on three-ball counts since he's virtually incapable of hitting the ball over an outfielder's head. This was particularly evident last year, when Revere drew a free pass only 32 times in 622 plate appearances between Triple-A and the majors. For reference, that 5 percent walk rate is only one point higher than Delmon Young's career mark.

It'd be nice if Revere walked a little more often, but he is who he is and that's not likely to change. Therefore, he'll need to hit his way on base in order to maximize his impact. That was never really a problem for Revere the prospect, who batted over .300 at every single minor-league stop, but last year he got a cold dose of reality as big-league pitchers held him to a .267 average.

He had stretches where the hits would fall in, and he did finish the season strong, batting .394 with seven multi-hit efforts in his final 15 games. Revere gets out of the box and down the line fast enough that he can frequently leg out singles on weak contact. Still, batting over .300 in a major-league season is a tough task, and it's near impossible when you're beating the ball into the ground nearly 70 percent of the time and when those grounders often don't make it past the pitcher's mound.

As a defensive specialist and No. 9 hitter, Revere doesn't carry lofty offensive expectations, but last year's .619 OPS simply won't cut it for a regular. There's not much reason to expect a significant boost in walks or extra-base hits, so the key to offensive success for the young outfielder will be an increase in hard grounders that skip past gloves and line drives that drop in front of outfielders, at the expense of those weak infield rollers.


Jim H said...

I agree with most of your take on Revere. To have much value in the majors, he will have to hit over 300. I also doubt if he will ever take a lot of walks, although he may learn to be a little more selective in what he swings at.

I think it fair to mention that under ideal circumstances Revere would of likely spent the whole of last year at AAA. While that wouldn't of changed what he is, if he had spent the year at AAA hitting over 300, we likely might look at him a little different.

I don't think he is a finished product. He will never have home run power, but he might refine his swing a bit and develop gap power as he gets older and stronger. If that happens, teams will play him a bit deeper to cut off doubles and triples. So he might even sneak a few more bloops in there.

I expect him to hit at the major league level and eventually become a consistent 300 hitter, with some years approaching 350. That is pretty optomistic, but I think he is a better hitter than most speed guys, and until he loses his speed, he has a chance to be special.

ScottyB said...

What Revere needs is to spend as much time with Rod Carew as possible during Spring Training to truly learn to bunt. If he could get 50 bunt singles a year, he would greatly increase his value to the team.

Tom said...

Revere could be the only player in history with a slash line of .300/.300/.300. Which would be fine for a middle infielder. Sounds like he's going to be playing LF, though, and that just isn't good enough for a corner outfielder. Defensively he's good, albiet with a lawn hose for an arm. But there's a reason guys end up in corner OF spots, and it's because they can hit. His defensive value is somewhat marginalized in left.

On a contending team he's a 4th OF/pinch runner. But I'm all for the Twins using him in a rebuilding year, get him a bunch of at bats and see if he sinks or swims. They should be doing this with more youngsters, in my opinion.

TT said...

I think Jim H hit Revere on the mark. His upside is a plus major league hitter. But whether he is going to hit that upside this year is doubtful. His lack of power is always going to make him controversial with some fans, especially in left field.

Myrone Slothrop said...

.350? You realize in the last 10 years only Mauer, Ichiro, Maggie Ordonez, and Hamilton have hit .350 in an AL season, right?

Kelly said...

I agree with Scotty, learning from Rod Carew is the ticket. But I don't mean about just bunting. 50 bunts is unrealistic. Carew had 29 one year (I think 1969) and that was a high.

Revere is a Paul Blair kind of player. High 200s average and with dynamic fielding skills.
If he was able to strengthen his throwing arm, he is a better CF than Span. They would switch positions if I were the manager. Revere just gets to the ball better than anyone the Twins have. If you catch the ball, maybe the weaker arm does not matter so much.

Jim H said...

OK, I shouldn't of suggested Revere could hit 350, though when you think about, for a big, rather slow catcher to hit 350 is pretty remarkable. I think the problem is people expect corner outfielders to have pop. Even though very few Twins leftfielders have had much pop since Harmon and Bob Allison were in leftfield in the 60's.

I don't care much about power, but I would like to see some production. Revere will likely be a better leftfielder than the semi-famous Dan Gladden was. In time, Revere could be very productive. That certainly isn't guaranteed and it maybe difficult for him to reach his potential.

Doug Duwenhoegger said...

Watching the way the outfield walks in about 10 steps when Revere comes up really questions how effect he can be hitting in front of outfielders. Hitting near a bunch of sub .200 hitters last season did him no favors. He does need to learn how to bunt to at least create some space between the infielders and the outfield.

TT said...

Kelly -

Paul Blair hit 26 home runs one year. I don't think Revere is going to get there. Hitting .350 is certainly highly unlikely for any player, but not impossible for Revere.