There is nothing all that special about Ben Revere.
He is not a guy like Ryan Howard, who will hit 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in a season. He’s not like Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley, who when at their best were capable of scoring 100-plus runs in a season. Revere is a solid defender, but is not going to wow you with his glove, making spectacular plays like Freddy Galvis or Cody Asche. He doesn’t get a lot of extra base hits and really does not have a good arm in center field.
But all of that said, Revere might still be the most important and most valuable player the Philadelphia Phillies have on their roster for the 2014 season. Because when it comes to the 25-year-old outfielder, it is not what he can’t do, but what he has the potential to do, that really lends to his value
Let’s start with the obvious: Revere is the new leadoff man.
Under Charlie Manuel, I could envision several scenarios in which Revere batted second or later down the lineup, but under Ryne Sandberg, I can’t think of one. That said, Revere isn’t exactly your prototypical leadoff hitter, either. In fact with an OBP hovering at or around .340, Revere is no more suited for this role than Rollins, who hit around a .330 clip for his career.
But again, it is not what Revere is, but what he can become. And because of the speed he has and the ability to get on base, the belief is that he can become a decent leadoff hitter. And that belief can be supported by what Revere started to show since the 2013 season’s second month.
After an absolutely horrid April, Revere bounced back in May and continued to improve before he landed on the DL in mid-July. Revere had a .312 BA/.361 OBP in May, .354 BA/.390 OBP in June and .388 BA/.388 OBP in July. Revere started to take more pitches, to work more counts and at a clip of almost .400, was getting on base as much as a leadoff hitter should as he really started to come into his own.
The Phillies need a table setter and Revere is showing he can be that guy. And when he reaches base, he is an absolute threat. In 88 games this year, Revere stole 22 bases in 30 attempts. While that success rate is a little lower than it should be, again, Revere is one of those guys that you have to watch. From the top of the order, this really is a great way to disrupt an opposing pitcher.
But other than his obvious value on the base paths and in the batters’ box, Revere is a great defender. His speed allows him to cover an incredible amount of ground, and in 2012, he saved 14.5 fielding runs, second most among center fielders. His arm is the weakest part of his defensive game, but really, this is something that can be improved.
In fact, that is the beauty of Revere.
Everything that he doesn’t do well such as the arm strength and the lack of extra-base hitting are things that he can fix and improve with somewhat ease. It is not like Rollins, whose entire swing is a problem, or Howard, who strikes out more than he should for a guy that hits less than .250.
All Revere needs to do is really use the offseason to build his strength, maybe even to put on some muscle. It is a lot easier to find power than it is technique, and Revere already has the latter. It is a lot easier to help a guy have a better eye at the plate than it is to stop them from overswinging.
Revere doesn’t do that. He doesn’t pop the ball up; he doesn’t try to be a power hitter. He is a slap bunt, singles hitter and he is best served staying that way. Obviously using his speed to get more doubles is a plus, but Revere knows who he is, what he is and what he does best. Anymore, that can’t be said for Rollins or even Howard.
So while Howard, Utley and Domonic Brown are still going to be this team’s go-to offense, the ceiling Revere has makes him an asset and one that very well could determine just how successful the Phillies are in 2014.