USA TODAY Sports
Rather than break the bank for Michael Bourn or another free-agent option, the Phillies traded from their stock of young starting pitching to acquire a high-motor defensive standout with game-changing speed. The downside: he's hit exactly as many major league homers as you have.
2012 totals: .294/.333/.342, 0 HR, 40 stolen bases in 49 attempts
2013 Oliver projection: .284/.329/.335, 0 HR, 36 stolen bases
2013 Bill James projection: .288/.331/.331, 0 HR, 40 stolen bases
2013 Steamer projection: .280/.324/.345, 3 (!!) HR, 32 stolen bases
Contract status: Arbitration eligible in 2014 (Cot's Contracts)
More than a quarter-century before Ben Revere emerged as a good-glove, high-energy, slap-hitting outfielder with Minnesota, Twins fans fell in love with another undersized, contact-hitting defensive standout. Making his debut in 1984, he finished third in Rookie of the Year balloting despite a .336 slugging percentage and zero home runs in 583 plate appearances. After hitting four home runs in his second season, the young outfielder suddenly emerged as a full-blown power threat in 1986, slugging 31 home runs. His name was Kirby Puckett.
Okay, Revere’s not likely to follow the same path. Puckett was built somewhat like a wrestler; Revere’s more like a jockey. And while Puckett gave a hint of the power to come with 29 doubles (and 13 triples) in addition to his four homers during his sophomore campaign, Revere’s second year with the Twins in 2012 included just 13 doubles and five three-baggers to go with his zero homers.
Even so, the soon-to-be-25 year-old stands a good chance to emerge as a mainstay in the Phillies outfield for seasons to come. Baseball-Reference.com pegs Revere’s value in 2012 as 2.4 Wins Over Replacement; if you accept that a win is worth $5 million, Revere was a $12 million player last year while earning about 1/25th of that. It’s also likely his best work is yet to come: at the same age Revere played at last season, Michael Bourn put up 0.9 WAR for the 2007 Phillies (albeit in a reserve role), and Juan Pierre 0.4 WAR for the 2002 Rockies.
Might Revere have Bourn-level upside? The former Phil has been worth 14.3 WAR over the last three seasons, boosting his walk rate to nearly 10 percent and even showing decent extra-base power. While that part isn’t likely, Revere’s a good bet to hit for a higher average than Bourn: he posted a .326 average over 1755 minor-league plate appearances, and hit .294 for the Twins last year. The speed is a match: Revere’s 40 steals were third in the AL last season, and he was successful more than 80 percent of the time.
And while his on-base percentage was just .333 last year, he’s no hacker: as Corey Seidman reported last month, Revere had one of the lowest swing rates in MLB, at 41 percent. But when he did swing, he made contact at a higher rate (92 percent) than all but two major leaguers. Finally, he almost always put the ball in play: only 22 percent of his strikes were foul balls, second lowest in the majors behind Martin Prado. As Seidman put it, "When he swings, he makes contact."
Best case: a player who hits near .300, steals upwards of 40 bases and plays a Gold Glove caliber centerfield. The lovably goofy Twitter persona is icing.