The world hasn’t ended, or at least not the part I’ve been in. And while the world is indeed ending, technically, it isn’t ending any faster than it was a day ago or a week ago. Ben Revere hit a home run and it seems there haven’t been any greater, big-picture consequences. You ordinarily don’t expect there to be, but as far as Revere was concerned, we couldn’t be absolutely sure until now. Ben Revere homered and things kept on keeping on. It’s how it was with Joey Gathright. It’s how it was with Jason Tyner. It’s how it was with Tony Campana, if you choose to count his inside-the-parker. It looks just the same in the box score.
Revere’s homer wasn’t witnessed by that many. Paid attendance was barely 23,000, and the game had an extended rain delay. It made little significant difference, turning a 4-1 deficit into a 4-2 deficit on the way to a 6-2 loss. And Revere, otherwise, had an ordinary game. His first time up, he made an out to third. His second time up, he made an out to first. His third time up, he made an out to third. His fifth time up, he made an out to second. It was a regular Phillies game with Ben Revere in it, save for his fourth plate appearance. But that fourth plate appearance is something we’ve been waiting for for years, so we can’t just let this go by. We have to seize this occasion to dwell, and so, let’s go over some pertinent facts.
Fact No. 1
Ben Revere hit a home run. It was an out-of-play home run. It was not knocked over the fence by an outfielder, and it was not pulled over the fence by a fan. It did not strike any particular boundary. Revere homered, ending one of the longest homerless streaks in modern baseball history. This is the fact that beats all the other facts. Everything else is details, color. This is the bit that matters. If the other facts are sprinkles, this fact is the cupcake.
Fact No. 2
The pitch that Revere hit out was a 1-and-1 inside fastball, from a lefty to a lefty. The fastball was neither fast nor slow, and over the PITCHf/x era, similar pitches from lefties to lefties have been hit out about 1.5% of the time. Pitches down the middle from lefties to lefties have been hit out about 1.7% of the time. This was a good pitch to turn on, and Revere had seen a similar pitch to open the at-bat.
Fact No. 3
Not that one would expect Ben Revere to be able to turn on anything. He’s obviously never hit for power, but he’s done the bulk of his offensive damage up the middle or going the other way. We have split data going back to 2002, and since then, Revere has posted baseball’s third-lowest wRC+ to the pull field, with the very lowest ISO. Pulling the ball, he’s notched a 55 wRC+. Going the other way, he’s notched a 120 wRC+. Ben Revere’s always been a slap hitter, but Tuesday he mixed in a punch.
Fact No. 4
Revere didn’t just homer against a lefty. He homered against Boone Logan, who’s carved himself a career as a lefty specialist. What Logan isn’t is prime Aroldis Chapman. What Logan is is awful effective most of the time against upper-level lefty bats, a group to which Ben Revere doesn’t belong. If you’d heard just that Revere homered, you’d probably make a few assumptions. Was it an inside-the-parker? Was it against a righty? It was legit, and it was against a lefty, and it was against a lefty who’s good against lefties. He wasn’t good against this lefty, this one time.
Fact No. 5
Something known is that Ben Revere doesn’t drive the ball deep to the outfield. In part this is because he just isn’t a powerful hitter, but it’s also in large part a limited number of opportunities. Over the window for which we have data, Revere has posted baseball’s lowest fly-ball rate. Over the past calendar year, 31 different players have hit more fly balls than Revere has hit in his entire big-league career to date. Revere entered with a HR/FB% of 0.0%, but the denominator was relatively small, as Revere is aware of his strengths and weaknesses.
Fact No. 6
As Revere rounded second base, he didn’t really know what to do.
“When I got to second base, I didn’t know what to do, especially when I got to third,” Revere said.
Fact No. 7
The Phillie Phanatic didn’t really know what to do, either.
Fact No. 8
This post came close to not being written, as this came close to not being Ben Revere’s first homer. Here’s a screenshot from a 2012 fly ball:
Additionally, twice within a few weeks in 2011, Revere was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park dinger. On neither occasion was he successful, and inside-the-parkers are different from outside-the-parkers, but had Revere already had a homer to his credit, then Tuesday’s homer would be far less remarkable, even if it were the first that he’d put in the seats.
Fact No. 9
This post came close to not being written, as this came close to not being Ben Revere’s first homer. You’ll note that he hit the ball to the first row of the stands:
According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Revere’s homer had a distance of 357 feet. Given everything about it, the same ball would have left a grand total of six ballparks under standard conditions. One wind gust was all this fly needed to stay in the yard, and as an example, here’s Revere’s homer with an Arizona ballpark overlay:
It makes you think about what a home run really is. On the one hand, on this particular day, all Revere needed to do to hit a home run was do what he did. So he did what he did, and the ball flew over the fence, and that’s how a home run is defined. But if you figure that Revere didn’t swing a particular way because of his awareness of the stadium, then does Revere deserve full credit for a ball that wouldn’t have left most outfields? If you park-adjust this home run, it’s more of a double or a triple or an out. Revere homered, but he didn’t homer convincingly, so there’s room for something of a philosophical discussion for people who can’t stand to lose a hold of Revere’s homerless skid. Are Yankee Stadium home runs to right field really home runs? If we were to bucket balls in play differently, classifying by contact quality rather than result, then Revere might still be without a certain something. He homered. In most stadiums, he wouldn’t have homered. That doesn’t earn him an asterisk or anything, but it’s deeply interesting how baseball is played in such starkly different environments.
Fact No. 10
Boone Logan didn’t want to know that he was the guy who finally allowed it to happen.
Earlier this year, a pitcher and I had a conversation about Ben Revere, and I asked if he’d be willing to groove one or two in there, just to see if it could happen. The pitcher declined, asserting that pitching is his “real job” and that a big part of that job is not grooving pitches to hitters in games as part of informal experiments encouraged by bloggers, but the pitcher noted that he didn’t want to be the one guy. People won’t remember Logan’s role in this as long as they’ll remember Revere’s role in this, but baseball does have a memory, and Logan’s hope now is for Revere to do this a few more times so it’s no longer anything worth talking about. Pitchers have given up home runs to Juan Pierre, but I couldn’t name them.
Fact No. 11
Never before had Revere felt the sensation of going deep in a major-league game. But he had felt the sensation of going deep in a major-league ballpark, as he’s hit the ball out a bunch of times in batting practice. And he’s felt the sensation of going deep in a minor-league game, with this video offering proof. Ben Revere has been said to have a power swing, and while he’s smarter than to bring it out often in games now, the swing he used in the seventh inning Tuesday was not his ordinary swing. He’s reached the bleachers before. Just not under such circumstances.
Fact No. 12
Revere was greeted by the cold shoulder upon returning to the dugout, which is fairly standard practice. And yet, it was not that way for Jason Tyner, even though his going deep was about as silly as Revere’s going deep. From July 2007:
The excitement wasn’t lost on his teammates, who greeted him with an unusual occurrence for a player’s first career homer — a celebration. Normally a player gets the silent treatment. But this was, after all, something they all felt was a special occasion. So awaiting Tyner upon his return were a bunch of high fives and a big hug from the team’s unofficial cheerleader and clubhouse attendant, Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway.
Fact No. 13
Fact No. 14
With Revere’s streak over, it’s unclear what might step in in its place. No current players of note are stuck on zero homers over meaningful samples. Home runs are also one of those classic, fundamental statistics, so Revere’s was a streak that everyone could appreciate. Rafael Betancourt hasn’t hit a guy since 2003, and *I* find that interesting, but nobody else cares. There just isn’t another streak like Revere’s out there, so while this is cause for celebration, perhaps things would’ve been more interesting had Revere not just gone yard. Then every day there would be some suspense, where now there will be none. I mean, aside from the usual suspense in a given baseball game.
Fact No. 15
Before the year, Steamer projected Revere to hit two home runs. ZiPS projected him to hit one. The fans projected him to hit zero.
Fact No. 16
Ben Revere has destroyed maybe the most interesting thing about himself as a player. If Revere is to remain widely known now, it will be for other things, the downside of that being that Revere hasn’t blossomed into very much of a regular. When Revere was homerless, we could appreciate his homerlessness, and appreciate the things he’s done to remain an adequate player. But now that he’s among the homered, he’s just another guy without much power, and with the focus removed from the dinger column, it’s more evident that there isn’t enough of the other stuff. As a Phillie, Revere has been worth one win above replacement in 131 games. Ben Revere was more interesting without a home run. That doesn’t matter to Revere or the Phillies, and there are other ways for him to establish himself as differently interesting in the future, but now that we all can’t chuckle about the lack of homers, we can see clearer there isn’t a lot to smile about.
Print This Post