Listen, I like Ben Revere.
Really, I do. He seems like a good guy. He's a young player, a guy with a lot of energy, and I really want him to be a valuable piece of this offense for the next few years. No matter what he does moving forward, the trade to acquire him was a good one, in that the Phils gave up a couple of pitchers without much of a Major League future (Vance Worley and Trevor May) in exchange for a potential lead-off hitter/center fielder.
All that said, it's time to put Ben Revere on the bench for a while. And it may be time to consider the real possibility that he isn't the Phillies' "center fielder of the future."
Ben Revere's problems cover multiple issues.
First, he's not doing enough offensively. After last night's 1-for-4 in the Phils' 10-0 bludgeoning by the Blue Jays (another single), Revere is hitting .277/.289/.311. He has two extra-base hits this year. TWO. And as a lead-off hitter, his 1.6% walk rate is atrocious. As Bill Baer over at Crashburn Alley noted last week, Revere is simply not a valuable enough hitter is he's not going to walk at all and fail to come up with the occasional extra-base hit.
But not only is Revere failing at the plate, he's not even making up for hit by playing above average defense in center field. In fact, his defense has been average, at best. He made a killer mental error last night in Toronto (sorry, no embed available), which helped open the door to a nine-run Toronto seventh inning. It's not the first error he's made tracking fly balls, even though he often makes up for it with spectacular diving plays.
(Bear in mind, I'm not blaming the Jays' nine-run explosion solely on Ben Revere. Cliff Lee melted down after that misplay, lost his location, and gave up about a million feet worth of extra-base hits after that. The pitching staff's inability to get guys out was the reason for the meltdown. But Revere's misjudgment started the ball rolling.)
And, of course, there is the issue of his throwing arm, as witnessed by his utter inability to reach home plate on a sacrifice fly to shallow center field, resulting in the go-ahead run scoring in the Phils' 6-5 loss to Toronto on Tuesday night.
I managed to find a .gif of that one.
The bottom line is that Revere isn't doing much to help his team win ballgames.
Yesterday, I argued that the Phillies need to stick with Domonic Brown as their everyday left fielder, despite his struggles. The main reason for that argument was that they simply had no choice. There are no viable alternatives to Brown. But that is not the case with Revere.
Tony Gwynn Jr. has done well as the back-up center fielder so far this season. In limited playing time this year (49 PAs), Gwynn is hitting .250/.362/.300 with eight runs scored. But his walk rate of 14.3% and .362 OBP is far more desirable from a lead-off hitter. And up until last night, his defense had been at least on par with Revere's, with a better throwing arm.
Then, this happened.
Tony Gwynn Jr. looked like a deer taking its first steps in life on that play.— Jerry Gaul (@jerry_gaul) May 8, 2014
Tony, you are absolutely killing my argument.
Of course, that one play shouldn't color the good job Gwynn had done all season. Is he the long-term answer in center and at the top of the lineup? Probably not. He's 31 years old and has a career slash line of .244/.314/.318 in 630 Major League games spanning four teams. He's been a mostly league-average player throughout his career, so we're not talking about some great solution. And, perhaps this says it best.
@FelskeFiles The fact that we're deciding between a AAAA player and Ben Revere says it all.— Jesus Zoidberg (@JesusZoidberg) May 8, 2014
However, the other alternatives would be to have Marlon Byrd play center (which he has done in the past) and have John Mayberry or Revere play every day in right. Of course, then you would either have John Mayberry playing baseball every day (which is never good for anybody) or Revere and his sub-.300 OBP continuing to waste at bats in the lineup every day.
Let's face it. There are no good options. But the hope would be that Gwynn plays a decent defensive center field, shows the ability to throw the ball to any base on the diamond, and continues to get on base, as he has in a limited basis this year.
The one thing I know for sure is that it's time to give Ben Revere a rest.