• Position Analysis: Left Field

    Likely Starter: Ben Revere
    2011 Stats: .267/.310/.309, 0 HR, 30 RBI, 56 R, 34/43 SB

    Potential Backups: Trevor Plouffe, Darin Mastroianni, Brian Dinkelman

    Last year the Twins were the least effective team in all of baseball at converting batted balls into outs. With a pitching staff that allows a ton of contact, that's an enormously troubling statistic.
    Lining up Ben Revere as the regular left fielder should certainly benefit the Twins on the defensive front. He and Denard Span can team up to track down almost everything hit in the air to the left side of Target Field's spacious outfield. But how much are the Twins giving up offensively by going with Revere as their starter in left? And if he doesn't start reaching base with greater frequency, how long will his leash be?

    I've seen plenty of skepticism regarding Revere's long-term outlook, and it's not hard to see why. Lacking power, patience and arm strength, his skill set is clearly limiting Ė particularly for a corner outfielder, which is what he'll be as long as Span is holding down center.

    Yet, I'm pretty bullish on Revere, for a number of reasons. While his weaknesses are well established, he also has some promising strengths. He's a contact hitter who gets out of the box and down the line with extreme quickness, and he is blazing fast. He set a Twins rookie record with 34 stolen bases last year, and his range in the outfield is truly spectacular. At 23, I think he still has room to grow.

    Even if he's one of the best defensive left fielders in the league, the .619 OPS that Revere posted in 2011 simply won't cut it. He needs to elevate that number, and since he's not likely to start drawing walks or racking up extra-base hits, he'll need to do it by significantly improving his batting average. He can help himself in that area by lifting the ball more (his 68.5 percent ground ball rate led the Twins last year) and bunting for hits (he's only attempted 16 career bunts).

    The alternative to Revere in left, when the Twins face a tough lefty or when Ron Gardenhire wants more offense, will be Trevor Plouffe. A first-round draft pick back in 2004, Plouffe had a breakout season in the minors last year, posting a 1.019 OPS in Rochester, and he showed decent pop during his time in the majors with 27 extra-base hits in 320 plate appearances.

    Defensively Plouffe is a major question mark, given that he'd never played in the outfield prior to 2011, and his bat is hardly a proven commodity. He does offer some interesting offensive upside, though, and at the very least he's a nice guy to have around as a pseudo-platoon partner for Revere.

    I'm probably higher than most on both Plouffe and Revere, but there's no denying the fact that one is a converted shortstop who never hit much prior to last year and one profiles as a prototypical fourth outfielder. It's difficult to envision left field as a major strength between these two, but both are young players who offer very different benefits and I'm fairly intrigued to see how this little experiment will turn out.

    Predicted 2012 Hitting Line for Revere: .280/.330/.340, 1 HR, 30 RBI
    This article was originally published in blog: Position Analysis: Left Field started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      I assume the lone home run with be of the inside-the-park variety, right?
    1. Cap'n Piranha's Avatar
      Cap'n Piranha -
      Not necessarily. Even Nick Punto and Drew Butera managed to go yard back in 2010.
    1. Nicholas Mueller's Avatar
      Nicholas Mueller -
      Didn't Bill James, or someone else, also predict Revere would hit one homerun?
    1. twinsfiend's Avatar
      twinsfiend -
      In my humble opinion Span's RBI numbers this year will go hand in hand with how effective Ben is at getting on base and stealing 2nd. Not that we are expecting 100 RBIs from our lead-off hitter, but if Span got 70-80 RBIs that would be a huge lift, and that could happen if Revere can find ways of getting on base and then getting over to 2nd with his speed. If we could get .375 OBP from Revere, then I can easily see Ben scoring 90-100 runs with Span getting a nice chunk of RBIs out of it. But who knows, if we get .375 OBP from Revere, he might end up batting 2nd which isn't all bad either.

      Also watch Ben's productiveness versus lefties, I won't be surprised if early in the season he struggles against south paws to see a regular platoon form with Plouffe.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Nick, what do you think his OPS would need to be, combined wtih great defense, to make him league average as a LFer? Because I doubt it is as low as .670. And, why can't he learn to take a walk? Is that a hard skill to learn?
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      "And, why can't he learn to take a walk? Is that a hard skill to learn?"

      Mike, maybe it is because he makes too much contact. When he swings at a pitch he doesn't miss and more go into play. I think Puckett had that "problem". When he swung at something he tended to make contact. Every spring, Puckett talked about taking more walks. It never happened. It is hard to change your spots.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      I assume the lone home run with be of the inside-the-park variety, right?
      Heck yeah. He came close several times last year -- gotta happen.

      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Nick, what do you think his OPS would need to be, combined wtih great defense, to make him league average as a LFer?
      Good question, and I don't really have a specific answer in mind. If he could get to .700 (which seems feasible with a .350 OBP and SLG) I think he'd a be a serviceable starter.

      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      And, why can't he learn to take a walk? Is that a hard skill to learn?
      In order to take a walk, you need pitchers to throw the ball outside of the zone. How many guys are going to be afraid to throw it over the plate with three balls to a guy who can't hit it over the outfielders' heads?
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      How many guys are going to be afraid to throw it over the plate with three balls to a guy who can't hit it over the outfielders' heads?
      Thanks for the chuckle. True as that may be, I've never seen that attribute associated with a ML leftfielder.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      There are guys with similar power to Revere who manage higher walk rates. Carroll, Castilla and Punto to name 3. If you are going to walk more when you have little power, you have to take strikes early in the count. I suppose Revere could learn to do that, but he does seem to make a lot of contact when he swings at pitches.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      "At 23, I think he still has room to grow."

      We can only hope. But hey, anytime you can lock up a .619 OPS and about 30-40 RBI a season at a corner outfield spot with a 1st round draft pick...I think you gotta do it, right?!
    1. LimestoneBaggy's Avatar
      LimestoneBaggy -
      I really want Revere to work out (maybe its the smile), but I caught him in a spring training game this year where he was ranging to his left and he called Benson off of a direct to the plate path. Ben made a weak, off-line throw home. Another year of "seasoning" in the minors could really have helped, but I think he will improve.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.