Is Revere Leadoff Material?
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.”