How Close Ben Revere Has Come

Ben Revere has never hit a major-league home run, and that much you probably already knew. Or maybe you knew it before, and didn’t know *today*, with Revere at his highest plate-appearance total ever. He’s only 25, and he’s got a long career ahead of him, but he’s coming up on some records and more and more people are aware of that. The ESPN Home Run Tracker has no record of Ben Revere existing. If you were in an ESPN Home Run Tracker fantasy league, and you didn’t know anything else, and someone drafted Ben Revere, you’d think to yourself, “that isn’t a real player.” Revere isn’t the first player of his sort, but he’s of the greatest interest at the present day.

Because of what Revere’s doing, or not doing, I like to make periodic check-ins, the way I do with Joey Votto‘s rate of infield flies. I just confirmed to myself that Revere hasn’t gone deep in 2013, over 330 trips to the plate. For his career, he’s six away from 1,400 plate appearances, and he’s got not a single dinger. He’s tried for a few inside-the-park home runs, but not only are those different — thus far they’ve been unsuccessful. So, I knew this morning Revere hadn’t homered in 2013. That made me wonder how close he’s come.

It’s not an easy thing to research, and I can have only so much confidence in my results. For example, I don’t know if Revere has hit a home run just a few feet foul. I have to go off the MLB.com batted-ball location data, and that’s fairly imprecise. It also tracks not where the ball was hit to, but where the ball was fielded, which becomes an issue with doubles and triples. After examining the records, I went to the video to watch Revere’s doubles, triples, and suspected deep fly outs. Below is what I believe to be the closest Ben Revere has come to hitting a home run in 2013, not so much by quality of contact, but by distance from clearing the fence.

We rewind to May 19, when the Phillies hosted the Reds. Recently, Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter, but on May 19 he very much did not throw a no-hitter, as Ben Revere got him for a hit in the bottom of the first. It was a one-out, line-drive double, and you can see it here:

RevereDoublePhillies.gif.opt

That’s Jay Bruce that the ball sails over, and right about here is where the ball hit the ground:

reverephillies

On one hand, that’s deep on the track, and Revere just about hit the fence on the fly. That’s a very long batted ball. On the other hand, this was a fairly low line drive off the bat, and it wasn’t that much of a dinger threat. With a few more feet of distance, this could’ve become a physical souvenir, but instead these images are your intangible souvenirs of the moment that was almost a different moment.

Said the Phillies broadcast:

That’s one of the hardest balls he’s hit in a Phillies uniform.

Said the Reds broadcast:

[nothing relevant or interesting]

Coming into the day — the day being May 19 — Revere was batting .237, and he was slugging .263. Revere was supposed to be a major Phillies acquisition, so he was getting some questions about his early slump, and Revere curiously and interestingly said around the time that he was working on his power swing. Of most note was that Ben Revere claimed to possess a power swing.

“I went back to look at what I like to do. I looked at things in the minor leagues to see how my set-up was because I had more power then. Now it kind of faded off.”

Revere has a career minor-league isolated slugging of .078. But, no matter — players can work on what they want to work on, and it’s not their job to explain themselves with great detail or accuracy. Since May 19, Revere’s hit .346, and he’s slugged .408. He’s been the player the Phillies wanted, and while he still hasn’t hit a homer, he’s at least hit more fractional homers, which is an unpopular synonym of “hits.”

And, for the record, Revere has technically hit a ball into the outfield seats:

ReverePuig.gif.opt

So, is Revere ever going to do it? He knows what’s going on, and he gave an interesting quote to Zack Meisel:

There is the lack of forgiveness from his former home ballpark.

“In Target Field, you have a big right-field wall,” Revere said. “I don’t know how many times I hit the middle of that thing.”

Based on my previous investigations, I think the number is zero times. The number is, at most, a small number, if we’re talking about hits on the fly that aren’t during batting practice. Revere sounds a little frustrated that he still hasn’t gone yard in the bigs, but he knows what his skillset is, he knows what he needs to do to succeed, and he figures it’ll happen eventually. Stick around long enough and you’ll do all kinds of things that would’ve been unlikely in any single given at-bat.

Here are some things we know for certain. Revere has the ability to hit the ball pretty far, even in the majors. Below are a couple 2013 fly outs to center field, and these balls flew farther than some home runs:

reverebrewers

reverebrewers2

I mean, this is an actual home run that Billy Butler just hit in New York. That’s embarrassing, but it’s also evidence of how easy it can be to hit a home run sometimes. Revere would be capable of that. Everybody in the majors would be capable of that. That’s a lazy flare, for four bases.

When I wrote about Revere last September, a FanGraphs commenter noted that Revere has gone deep before in batting practice. The comment was left by a Target Field usher, and while batting practice isn’t the same as a game situation, provided you aren’t facing the Padres, it provides proof of concept that Revere has the necessary bat speed and strength to leave a major-league stadium.

Going even deeper, here’s video of Revere pulling a home run in the minors. That’s from May 2011, and while it’s not an impressive home run, it’s a home run in a real ballpark against a real pitcher, and as we’ve discussed, home runs don’t need to be jaw-dropping to count as home runs. What would a Ben Revere major-league home run look like? It would probably look a lot like that video, which is proof that Revere can do this.

And maybe the most important point is that Munenori Kawasaki hit a home run. He has a career HR/FB% of not-zero percent. Kawasaki, most of the time, appears laughably weak, a harmless sprayer of flare singles, but one time he ran into one, and if Kawasaki can do it, anyone in the majors can do it. Ben Revere can do it. Of that there’s no doubt in my mind. It’s simply a matter of getting opportunities, and Revere does enough other things well to pile those opportunities up.

Odds are, some day Ben Revere is going to hit a home run. One that doesn’t require him to sprint at full speed around all of the bases. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s the probability, because Revere is young and good and teams desire athletic center fielders. So far, he still hasn’t come particularly close, and in 2013 he hasn’t hit a ball off the wall on the fly. But there’s probably a curtain call in Ben Revere’s future, at least so long as he goes deep at home. And if and when that finally happens for him, I’m personally going to care about Ben Revere a lot less. I doubt that he’ll mind.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


32 Responses to “How Close Ben Revere Has Come”

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  1. chuckb says:

    Said Mike Shannon on the Cards’ radio broadcast, “he’s a hero in Boston for announcing that the British were coming. Who’s in CF for the Phillies? That Garry Maddox really could run ‘em down!”

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  2. DD says:

    FWIW, Steamer has him projected to hit a HR this year so stay tuned.

    Of course, it’ll probably be an inside-the-park one.

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  3. Nik says:

    Ben Revere is slugging more than Denard Span, the #1 offseason acquisition according to fangraphs, who also has gone yard 0 times this season.

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    • Ian says:

      It’s amazing to me how bad Span’s season has been. I thought he’d do much better – going to the NL, better lineup around him, playoff team etc. Rough season. 0.6 bWAR after a 5 WAR season last year.

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      • Ender says:

        I don’t understand why Denard Span has ever been regarded as more than average. Watching him play for the Twins, he was a mediocre hitter. I’m glad he left for Washington, but I don’t see what they or anyone else was expecting. Weak hitting slap hitter who far more often than not hits a weak dribbler to the second basemen for an easy out.

        Dude does not steal bases. He wasn’t elite at it in the minors and he sure wasn’t even average for the Twins.

        Overrated.

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    • Sir David Attenborough says:

      They appear, on superficial observation to be of the same species.

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  4. tbj_fan says:

    Ben Revere is the poor man’s Juan Pierre.

    JP hit a few; Ben Rever will do it too.

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  5. Bab says:

    Strange that he can’t muscle one out of the park. He’s not a big baseball player, but players his size found their power stroke in the past, like Kirby Puckett, Dustin Pedroia, etc. Ichiro even runs into one on occasion.

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    • Spencer D says:

      I’ve mentioned before, I was watching a Mariners game, and Mo was on to shut down the 9th for the bombers, and Ichiro came up with 2 on if I recall correctly. I don’t remember if it was first pitch, or 5th, but he sent one about 440 feet back, almost at will.

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      • Bab says:

        Given the way Ichiro takes care of his body, I have no doubt he has more power than his stats show.

        I think there are very few MLB players who lack the raw strength to hit HRs. Has anyone done a swing path analysis on Revere?

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    • Ian R. says:

      Ichiro is (well, was) also well-known for blasting huge home runs in batting practice. Scouts and coaches have repeatedly said that he could be a 50-homer guy if he tried to hit for power. I think that’s unlikely, but I also think he’s stronger than his career slugging would indicate.

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      • Ron says:

        I want to see where any scouts have said he has 50 home run power. I think even the 30 home run arguments are exagerated by fans. In his prime, and if he played in a good hitters park (and Safeco isn’t terrible for lefties) he might have had a few 20-25 seasons but 50 that is pretty amazing territory.

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        • Spencer D says:

          From what I’ve read, I think they presumed he would have to become somewhat like Joey Bats, lacking the ability to hit for significant average and power at the same time.

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        • frivoflava29 says:

          In addition to Spencer’s comment, Ichiro himself has said he prefers to hit for average rather than power. He is/was effective doing what he does.

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    • Ender says:

      wtf. Just cuz Ichiro is Japanese doesn’t mean he’s short as Pedroia/Revere/Puckett. Ichiro is 5’11″…

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      • Oh, Beepy says:

        Additionally Kawasaki hit his dinger using a completely different swing than the one he normally uses. He ‘swung from the heels.’ He did this again the following game and hit the facing of the second deck about 6 feet foul. A swing that accentuates your strengths (running out an above average amount of grounders vs. a likely 15% HR/FB rate) only makes sense.

        Saying ‘well Ichiro and Kawasaki!’ is silly, because a lot of slap hitters could well have excellent power strokes that we don’t have any reason to see.

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  6. brendan says:

    duane kuiper (giants broadcaster) had 3754 PA in the majors with a single career HR — sometimes he jokes about it on-air.

    as per bleacher report, most AB w/o a HR is
    William Holbert, 1876-1888 (2,335)

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    • Jaack says:

      Well, as can be expected from Bleacher Report, Bill Holbert is behind fellow 19th century baseballers Dave Eggler and Mike McGeary.

      Though the most interestingly named low power baseballer is Davy Force, who in 4407 PAs was only actually forceful enough for a home run once.

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    • J. D. KaPow says:

      Revere is 16th overall. Barring injury, he’ll finish this season in 7th or off the list entirely.

      Of the 15 homerless guys with more PA, eight played their entire careers in the 1800s, three others were pitchers (Joe McGinnity, Waite Hoyt and Don Sutton) and one was a WWII guy.

      The leader in the live-ball-era category looks to be Tom Oliver with 2073 homerless PA from 1930 to 1933. Revere could catch him next year and be the overall leader the year after.

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  7. Brian says:

    My buddy and I have debated whether it’s more likely that Revere’s first HR will be over the fence, or inside the park. Without hesitation, I went with inside-the-park, to the point where I was willing to give him 2-to-1 in a friendly wager.

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  8. Jaker says:

    Kawasaki hitting a home run hardly supports the idea that Revere could go yard. Kawasaki is known to wrestle bears before Jays’ games. He plays pick-up ice hockey on rollerskates and has twice scored a hat trick. He holds the world records in both discus and javelin but was disqualified after it was discovered he was too young to compete. He is the world’s most powerful man — in the body of a small boy.

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    • Radivel says:

      Also, he hit what would have been a HR again in (I think) the next game, if it had landed about four feet to the right of where it did.

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  9. SCRays says:

    Great Article. Enjoyed it.

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  10. David says:

    Kawasaki’s homer came off of Tommy “homerun” Hunter. Give Ben a few ABs against Tommy and he’ll have this homer drought ended in no time. Tommy excels at allowing homers.

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  11. Joe says:

    looks like the HR drought will continue for awhile unfortunately due his broken foot today.

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  12. Cubbie Blues says:

    Tony Campana wants back into the Bigs so he can have his title back.

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