A few short seasons ago the Philadelphia Phillies’ center fielder could track down fly balls with ease, gun down runners for an out, and had quite a few memorable home runs. Now, things could not be more different.
After the Phillies shipped off Shane Victorino in 2012, they acquired Ben Revere in hopes that they found their new center fielder, but Revere has failed to live up to the expectations set by Victorino. He often takes bad routes to fly balls and lacks power in both his arm and bat. The similarities between the two start and end with their speed. The Phillies need a catalyst to get their slumping lineup going, and as the lead off hitter, Revere is not doing his job.
It is not completely fair to compare the two, as Victorino never regularly batted leadoff, but it is clear that the Phillies are missing the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s production. Heading into yesterday’s game against the Angels, Revere had a .205 on-base percentage, and he does not make up for it in other areas. Revere’s speed is his biggest strength, but if he cannot get on base then he cannot make use of it.
A good comparison is the Phillies’ own Jimmy Rollins. Rollins’ career on-base percentage of .328 is only 8 points higher than Revere’s .320. However, Rollins has the ability to hit for power, as he has 203 homers in his career. He is also fourth all-time for leadoff home runs, hitting 45 in his career. Meanwhile, Revere does not have a home run in his five years in the majors, and if he does get one, it will most likely be an inside the park home run.
Revere could make up for poor on on-base percentage with great defensive play, but that is not the case. As breathtaking as some of his catches in the outfield are, part of the reason he has to make them is because he does not take great routes to the ball. The worst aspect of Revere’s defense is his arm, or lack thereof. In their extra inning loss to the Blue Jays last week, the Phillies lost in part because of Revere’s weak arm. The Blue Jays’ winning run scored with ease because Revere’s throw not only went about as far as second base, but was also off target. Compare that to Victorino who had perhaps the strongest arm on the team, and often saved runs, such as one memorable play in 2008 when he saved Brad Lidge’s perfect season by throwing out the tying run at the plate.
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This is not to say that Revere is a bad player, but more that he is not the best fit for the Phillies. He does not have one stand-out strength other than his speed. While he is not a liability to the team, he is not a strength either. His lack of power could be overlooked if he was better at getting on base, but that is simply not the case. The Phillies seem to be aware of this as Tony Gwynn Jr. (Sadly not Sr.) has lately gotten a few starts in center field. Revere will be around the rest of the season, he does not cost much, and it is likely teams are not knocking down the door to trade for him. However, how long he will continue to be the starter remains to be seen.
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