Look at the image of Ben Revere up there, cheesing so hard he's going to crack the camera lens. That's not a Picture Day picture, either; he was just running around on the field and saw a photographer was getting some shots of him and flashed him the Ben Revere Special on the house. How many other guys on this team would stop in the middle of stretching or throwing to make sure Getty had a few of their good side?
This team is full of guys with new faces or long faces or that face people make when they're telling you to "fuck off" in their heads, but Revere's is the face the Phillies turn to these days when the PR team needs a warm body in red pinstripes to verbalize something the Phanatic can't just mime. Ben Revere, the guy who dared to suggest the Phillies were after a Wild Card spot in September of last year, may be the one guy on earth who is excited to play for the Phillies this season.
And we should be glad that he's here, because he had 184 hits last year! Playing in 151 games, the most of his career by far, the 26-year-old's.306 BA was tops on the roster and for a little while, the National League, all while also leading the team in stolen bases (49) and triples (7).
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Revere has some trouble on defense, with a weak arm and fly ball routes that make you think perhaps a fan has run onto the field. His most celebrated defensive plays are often diving catches on balls he'd had to race to after running in a few steps.
Ben Revere just ran about 20 feet, turned around twice and ended up in the same place. Defensive player tracking can't get here fast enough.— Jeff Moore (@jeffmooreBP) March 7, 2015
And truthfully, his significance as an offensive contributor was a relatively new aspect of the Phillies' game last season. Revere's first run in a Phillies uniform in 2013 saw long stretches of futility. He once hit .150 during a slump that was basically a two-week video montage of him driving the ball into the ground.
With strengths and weaknesses well documented, Revere's role on the team is dictated by his very clear skill set, although he is a player who is capable of evolving; instead of no home runs last year, he hit two! Revere was the one who tied up a game against the Nationals at seven with two outs and two strikes in the ninth and made Rafael Soriano reconsider just what in the hell he was doing with his life.
Soriano actually refused to turn back around and face home plate, and was eventually removed from the field by security.
Yes, with a lot of roles undefined, the Phillies' center field position seems to be locked up, at least for now; Revere has been an ancillary mention in various lists of Phillies potential trade chips. Some would say he's not a natural center fielder, and the addition of Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera gives the Phillies at least one guy deeper to fill the position.
But while Revere's here, It certainly sounds like Ryne Sandberg plans for him; plans that will take one of his best offensive weapons and snuff its life out, all in the name of a theorem known only as "small ball."
"That’s something that I’m stressing this spring. We’re working on it. We’re practicing it. If it’s not a bunt, it could be a hit and run. Get a baserunner, make something happen–really to set the tone for the season. … I look at our bats and our type of team, and I think we’re going to have to be good at that game."
Revere is usually a part of Sandberg's mad bunting schemes this spring, whether he's the one laying it down or the one flying out of the pitcher's peripheral. As this is a strategy that results in a lot of outs, even when successful, and the practice in general seems to work against the team, it sort of neutralizes the output Revere had last year when he couldn't stop singling even if he'd been trying very hard not to. He didn't walk much, but he got on base his own way. Now, instead of trying to string together a few hits, Sandberg is hoping to treasure his base runners like the extremely rare and finite resource they are on this team, and gently push them from base-to-base at the cost of the hitters following them.
Based on Sandberg's chosen strategy, Revere's failures may be more interesting to watch this season than his successes.