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  • Ben Revere and The Real Estate Market

    The book on Ben Revere is that he is a slap-hitting, bloop-knocking, fast-running, somersaulting offensive contributor.

    In his first full season at the major league level last year, he demonstrated outstanding contact. Of course, the catch was that his contact did not go anywhere. Revere would drive the ball into the ground and try to leg it out. In fact, among those with at least 400 plate appearances last year, his 68.5% ground ball rate led baseball. When he did put the ball in the air, the majority of the time it was a dying quail just past the arms of an outstretched infielder. Had Revere been on a slow-pitch softball team, none of his hits would have left the yard.

    From his hit distribution chart from TexasLeaguers.com (an aptly named website in this case) of his 2011 batted balls, you can see the Twins would need to haul in their fences a good 150 feet in order to turn Revere into a home run hitter:


    The rookie season results were none too impressive for the outfielder. In 450 plate appearances, Revere posted a .267 average but matched that with a disappointing on-base percentage (.310) and non-existent slugging percentage (.309). Because of his lack of power, any extra base hits would have to come in the form of shooting the ball through the drawn in outfield alignment.

    While his time with the Twins in 2012 has been brief, it has felt like he is getting a bit more distance on the ball than he had a year ago. In Milwaukee he doubled on a ball that one-hopped the warning track – a veritable Thome-ian blast for Revere. Later, he flew out to center in which the center fielder had to gallop all the way to the dirt to field. Last night in Chicago, he sent White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza near the warning track to nab another fly ball.

    Perhaps this was all based on a small sample sized memory but it felt like Revere was sending more pitches deeper into the ballpark then he ever did last year. Turns out, I wasn't crazy. A cursory check at the website BaseballHeatMaps.com confirms that the sophomore is indeed getting more distance on his drives versus a year ago. In 2011, his fly balls and line drives averaged 243.47 feet off of his bat. This year, he’s added almost 30 feet, hitting his flies and liners 272.87 feet.

    Twins fans like to offer the Kirby Puckett comparison for Ben Revere’s potential. After all, Puckett, like Revere, began his career as a light-hitting speedster. And it was not until Puck’s third year in the majors that he hit 31 home runs after hitting a total of four in the previous two seasons. Eternal Twins optimists believe that maybe, just maybe, the 24-year-old Revere can somehow elevate his power the same way Puckett did at age-26. Now after watching him for almost two seasons worth of at bats, I do not see in anyway Revere adds legitimate clout like Puckett had. His swing is too direct to the ball and drives down at the pitch, leading to a high amount of grounders and line drives – which is perfectly suited to fit his speed.

    If Revere is not capable of developing any sort of real power, why would the fact that he’s driving his few fly balls and occasional liners a tad further noteworthy?

    Because Revere’s spray chart became so predictable – to the point where a manager in 2011 could draw a chalk line at the edge of where Revere’s batted balls would go – defending him became easier. Outfielders played in and cut down some of the bloop hits and were also positioned close enough to the infield to keep Twins base-runners from advancing beyond one base if Revere happened to hit cleanly. For obvious reasons, you do not want to encourage a ground ball hitter like Revere putting the ball in the air too frequently but, if he’s able to redirect the occasional pitch towards the deeper part of the park, opposing teams may rethink their defensive alignment against Revere and move their starting position further back. This may open up the portion of the field that he excelled at doinking pitches towards in 2011.

    In all, because he does not draw a high percentage of walks, Revere’s on-base numbers are strongly correlated with his ability to hit safely. In his minor league career, he routinely had batting averages on balls in play (BABIP) well above the .330 mark. At the major league level, his BABIP has decreased to .262 through 558 plate appearances. Now oh-for his past two games, dropping his 2012 line from a pre-game .270/.341/.432 to a replacement-level .244/.311/.390, Revere needs every inch of the field opened up to his advantage.

    Keeping the opposing outfielders honest may be a way to clear up some real estate and get a few more hits.
    This article was originally published in blog: Ben Revere and The Real Estate Market started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. powrwrap's Avatar
      powrwrap -
      Excellent article. Your line about opposing defenses being able to draw a chalk line at Revere's max hitting range is spot on. Being able to move that line is a subtle advantage for the Twins. I saw his drive to the deep OF last night as well and was pleasantly surprised. His fly ball might have been wind-aided a bit but it was still tagged well.

      I remember going to a game late in 2010 and Revere ended up grounding out weakly to the pitcher four times in a row. I ended up naming that sort of an at-bat "Revering it." He is improving which is encouraging.

      Where can one find data on Revere's (or any player) ground out/air out ratios? Has Revere's fly ball ratio increased?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Great stuff. I remain firmly in the "not a believer" camp at this point, in terms of him ever being a hitter. Hope I'm wrong.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by powrwrap View Post
      Excellent article. Your line about opposing defenses being able to draw a chalk line at Revere's max hitting range is spot on. Being able to move that line is a subtle advantage for the Twins. I saw his drive to the deep OF last night as well and was pleasantly surprised. His fly ball might have been wind-aided a bit but it was still tagged well.

      I remember going to a game late in 2010 and Revere ended up grounding out weakly to the pitcher four times in a row. I ended up naming that sort of an at-bat "Revering it." He is improving which is encouraging.

      Where can one find data on Revere's (or any player) ground out/air out ratios? Has Revere's fly ball ratio increased?
      Fangraphs has ground ball and fly ball rates (as well as infield hits and line drives, etc), but I don't know if they have them separated out by outs vs hits. They might if you poke a little.
    1. twinsfan214's Avatar
      twinsfan214 -
      Nice article. I admit to being shocked at the numbers of extra base hits he's had since he's been up lately. Seeing the ball go to the warning track made me double-check to make sure it was him batting. Very nice to see. Go Benny Ben!
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I believe in his ability as a defensive player (despite the pop-gun arm), but remain a little skeptical of his ceiling on offense if he can't learn to draw a few more walks. I hope the recent trend of driving the ball deeper in the OF will result in an increase in his line drive %, which should help his BABIP.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      He has to draw walks, learn to crowd the plate, bunt, and be slap happy (shades of Luis Castillo) so when he does swing and hit the occasional fly, it scares the bejesus out of folks. Which also means he has to be the leadoff hitter...he is not a runner advancer. He can have a place in a lineup and on the field, just have to have the right place. Is he taking enough pitches to, say, flip-flop with Span?
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      Had Revere been on a slow-pitch softball team, none of his hits would have left the yard.
      No softball field I've ever played at would've held this ball
      http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=18043337
      Hey Parker, inaccurate statements are not good for credibility.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Good stuff
      One can make a similar argument for Denard Span as well. Here is his chart for 2012 from the same place:



      Maybe not 150 ft, but 100 for sure other than a couple balls he pulled. And Revere does not pull the ball. On the other hand, if you look at Revere's 2012 Chart:



      You'll see that he is getting some more pop than he had in 2011.... Arguably similar to Span (other than pulling the ball...) Look at those balls at CF. And this does not have his long outs from last night
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      I'm not an expert in the mechanics of hitting (and I don't predict Revere will ever hit even 20 home runs), but remember that the only reason Kirby developed any power is that he completely changed his swing by incorporating a leg-lift.
    1. wblmayo24's Avatar
      wblmayo24 -
      Revere played in the Metrodome in 2011. Where was I? Must not be a big fan.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      He can't draw many walks, when the opposing pitcher knows he can't hurt him with balls in the strike zone thrown with any kind of stuff. "A walk's as good as a hit" has a reverse meaning if he never hits anything that can move a runner more than a single base. The improvement in Ben's distance hitting is absolutely crucial to turning everything around, because an empty .300 really doesn't do much for a team.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      Which also means he has to be the leadoff hitter...he is not a runner advancer. He can have a place in a lineup and on the field, just have to have the right place. Is he taking enough pitches to, say, flip-flop with Span?
      A reasonable place for a player of his profile is to bat 9th until he is ever the team's best candidate to lead off. After all, past the first inning, you can think of any of his plate appearances as being like a leadoff batter's; and he's not exactly going to clog the basepaths in front of your true leadoff guy.
    1. eveldrive's Avatar
      eveldrive -
      Revere needs to play CF where he can track down more balls than Span; Span needs to play RF where he has excelled in the past; his arm is also more suited to RF than Revere's. Both are lead-off type hitters, however, and it would behoove the Twins to trade one - (more likely Span having more value) and get some quality veteran pitching help in return.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      No softball field I've ever played at would've held this ball
      http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=18043337
      Hey Parker, inaccurate statements are not good for credibility.
      You must be playing in the beer leagues or the coed leagues. Move up to the big boys and you will see diamonds that would have held this ball.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fire Dan Gladden View Post
      You must be playing in the beer leagues or the coed leagues. Move up to the big boys and you will see diamonds that would have held this ball.
      Ummm, sorry but no. That ball went about 370. Even the "big boys" as you call it don't play at parks that big. And if softball parks WERE that big, Parker would not have made that point about Revere not having any HR's in slowpitch softball in the 1st place.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      BEN REVERE can't bat second. Lead-off, or nothing. You can bury him at 9th...but he can't bat second.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      BEN REVERE can't bat second. Lead-off, or nothing. You can bury him at 9th...but he can't bat second.
      Yes, and he can be respected in the 9-spot. I ignored it because of the RF thing, but it is atrocious that the Twins manager doesn't (expletive deleted--can't I just say it?) understand OBP and how it affects the game. If there EVER was a dude for the 2-spot in baseball it is Joe Mauer. Not even close.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      You've obviously never seen any super-league...
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Solid article.....also seems like he's not hitting as many comebackers to the mound as last yr........does it list how many he did last yr cause it was sickening.
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