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What to Watch in 2012: Revere's Average

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ID:	143When 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.
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