Is Revere Leadoff Material?

Ben ReverePeople love dissecting the Phillies’ lineup.

Should Charlie Manuel split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard? Should Michael Young hit second, third or fifth? Should Ben Revere hit high or low? Should Jimmy Rollins hit lower to take advantage of his power?

The Rollins-Revere discussion is an interesting one, but very few people in Philadelphia have seen Revere play on a consistent basis to know exactly what he brings to a lineup. In fact, Manuel has said the same thing: he needs to see Revere play more before he makes any decisions about his spot in the order. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has seen Revere play. He managed him before the Twins traded him to the Phillies in December for Vance Worley and Trevor May.

I asked him before today’s game in Fort Myers if Revere has potential as a leadoff man.

“Well, it depends,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a .300 hitter. He didn’t walk a lot. He didn’t take a lot of pitches. But the kid can put the barrel on it. He finds different ways to get on, whether it’s dropping a drag bunt, he outruns balls. The walks … I think as he gets more experience he’ll probably learn to take a few more pitches here and there. And if they ask him to do that, Ben can do that. But Ben likes to swing.”

Revere averaged 3.61 pitches per plate appearance last season, which ranked 121st out of 144 qualifying players in baseball. Rollins averaged 3.70, which ranked 100th. So if you think Rollins isn’t patient enough at the plate, Revere will probably drive you crazy. Revere has started 128 games in his career in the leadoff spot. He has hit .263 with a .310 on-base percentage in those games. Rollins has started 1,374 in the leadoff spot and has hit .273 with a .332 on-base percentage.

Revere hit .294 with a .333 on-base percentage , .342 slugging percentage and .675 OPS last season. Rollins hit .250 with a .316 on-base percentage, .427 slugging percentage and .743 OPS. Revere has a career .319 on-base percentage, although that number has trended upward in his brief career. Rollins has a career .328 on-base percentage, although that number has trended downward the past two seasons.

Basically, everybody in the Revere camp has made a judgment call based on one season — last season.

But the smart bet is Rollins opens the season as the Phillies’ leadoff hitter. If the situation dictates it, Manuel could move up Revere later. But Manuel is a loyal guy. He isn’t going to overlook Rollins’ track record before the season starts.

But Gardenhire thinks Revere could do the job, if needed.

“I had no problem putting him up there because he hit .300 for us,” Gardenhire continued. “He’s an igniter. He gets on the bases, makes things happen. It just depends what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a guy that’s going to take a lot of pitches, probably not Benny. But if you’re looking for a guy that’s going to hit for a high average and ignite a baseball team that’s what you’ve got.”

Manuel has argued Rollins has done exactly that since he started filling out the Phillies’ lineup card in 2005.

“We had Juan Pierre last year,” Manuel said last month. “You were always asking why Pierre didn’t lead off? Because for me, Rollins is a better leadoff hitter. And you can say Pierre hit .300 and Rollins hit .250 or .260, but Rollins’ .250 or .260 had more value to it than Pierre’s .300.”

Pierre had better numbers last season than Revere, so that is another clue into which way Manuel is leaning.

Revere? He couldn’t care less.

“I told Charlie to hit me fourth,” he joked. “No, it’s a real big talk. I see it every day on Twitter. I already told Charlie, as long as I’m in this lineup and I try to help this team win, I don’t care where you bat me. I won’t be the guy who is going to be starting a scene up there. I’m not that guy. Really, it’s wherever he puts me. If I’m lower in the lineup and we’re winning I won’t say a word. If they’re batting at the top and we’re winning I won’t say a word. As long as we’re winning and bring that ring home to Philadelphia, I don’t care.”

9 Comments

What about the fact that Revere only swung at 41% of the pitches he saw (Only 21 major-leaguers swung at fewer). When he swung he happened to hit the ball a ridiculous 92% of the time (only 2 players had higher percentages). And only 22% of his strikes were foul balls (only one player had a lower percentage).

I wouldn’t say he’s impatient. He doesn’t swing a lot. Just when he does, he puts it in play. Not a terrible problem to have.

Those are actually really good stats that make an excellent point. Fangraphs has some of those as even being a little higher. His contact rate for swings inside the strike zone is over 96% lifetime. He still seems to strike out about twice as much as he walks but his BABIP last year was 325. I think part of the job of a lead off hitter is to have lengthier at bats – especially the first time through – so I’m not saying he should lead off or anything but the numbers are very interesting.

Love the last paragraph. This guy will fit in with this club which has been mercifully free of prima donnas, if you overlook some of Rollins off moments.

either way, the team now clearly has two viable options for leadoff, which is good, since one of them is getting older and has missed time due to injuries. I see no bad here.

I just hate seeing a pop up to the edge of the infield grass to lead the game off. That certainly isn’t “igniting” anything except my fury at this point.

I’m not a Rollins hater or anything, and I think he is still one of the best SS in baseball, but I just really think he, and the team, would be better served in a spot in the lineup where he would be allowed to use his aggressive style and power to knock guys in. Especially with the lack of power we have, especially when compared to the lineups of division foes Atlanta and DC, we need to put the power we have in the right spots.

I like the comment about his swing rate being pretty low, and I’ve researched pretty much all of it for an article about this exact question.

I love that he always gets challenged due to his lack of power, his contact rate (especially in the SZ), and his ground all rate. With his speed he gives himself a chance to get I more often than not. No automatic outs flying out to the edge of the infield grass. And his slugging percentage wouldn’t matter much, especially leading off, since he can swipe second almost at will.

Obviously Charlie won’t start Revere leading off on opening day, but if he shows better walk rates and good contact consistently, it would be silly not to use it up top IMO.

Revere has a great attitude. He obviously sees the ball and hits the ball well very consistently. I think Charlie and Ryne (behind the scenes) are going to play around with various lineups all Spring and we’ll see what shakes. The main problem with using stats and metrics and models is that it all relies on what the players did in the past, not what they are doing now… it’s SPring TIme, the coaches have to see what each player has showed up with THIS SPRING and go from there…

Revere will have plenty of opportunities this spring in the leadoff spot because JRoll is playing in the WBC. I think those games start this weekend.

Revere worked a walk in his first at-bat and scored a run. Nice patience and a nice way to start a game.
Meanwhile Ruf booted a single to left for a two base error and the guy ended up scoring from third. That is unacceptable. Plus, with an 0-10 start at the plate Ruf is greasing the skids to Lehigh Valley.

Revere batted second with Mauer and the heart of the lineup behind him. He only saw 3.6 pitches because he was fed a steady supply of fastballs.

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