When the Phillies moved on from Shane Victorino midway through the 2012 season, it was time. He was hitting .261 and second in the majors to only Jimmy Rollins in the infield fly department. With so much money committed to so many other aging players, and contracts for Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz soon expiring, the Phils were faced with a decision.
They chose to trade Victorino to the Dodgers, and five months later they replaced him in center field with Ben Revere, who at that point was 24 years old.
Revere is seven years younger than Victorino. His salary these last two seasons has been $23.5 million less than Victorino's. And all it took to acquire Revere was Vance Worley, who the Phillies sold at his peak, and pitching prospect Trevor May, who has always maintained high strikeout rates. May, though, has a 4.44 ERA since the deal and a 4.06 career ERA in the minors. Worley has since been let go by the Twins and is currently pitching for the Pirates' Triple A affiliate in Indianapolis.
In other words, Revere cost the Phils practically nothing. And yet the experiment still cannot be called a success.
Revere hit .305 in 2013 before breaking his foot. He was on fire when he fouled a ball off his right foot just before the All-Star break.
This season, though? Revere in 36 games has hit .268 with a .284 on-base percentage. He's walked three times in 142 plate appearances -- that 2.1 percent walk rate ties him for dead last in the majors with Jean Segura and Khris Davis of the Brewers.
Over his last 13 games, Revere has a .196 OBP in nearly 50 plate appearances, all out of the leadoff spot.
Which invites this question: Is he even an everyday player?
Right now, the answer appears to be no. And it's not just because of a bad 13-game stretch. It's because Revere is a below-average defender and has absolutely zero power. When he's not timing the ball and hitting singles, he doesn't do anything else well enough to make up for it.
Revere has no home runs in 1,542 career trips to the plate. No player since 1947 has finished a career with as many PAs as Revere and no homers.
The lack of homers is one thing. But Revere rarely hits a ball down the line or to the gaps with authority. Revere has just two extra-base hits this season and 14 in 478 plate appearances as a Phillie.
Defensively, Revere has excellent make-up speed -- which is why he is capable of making circus catches -- but he has mediocre to poor instincts and probably the weakest arm in baseball. Revere is incapable of throwing runners out at the plate, not because of a lack of effort, but because he simply has a weak arm. There have been countless examples in his brief tenure as a Phillie where he's caught a ball shallow enough to nab a runner, but he's always tested and the result is almost always the same.
So ... where is the value? When you're a player with no power and can't play quality defense, you better get on base a ton like Juan Pierre did in his prime. Pierre from 2000 to 2009 hit .301 with a .348 on-base percentage. That made up for an arm that was always tested and a bat that produced just 13 home runs in 1,433 games.
And you know what? As soon as Pierre started hitting below .280, he started settling for one-year deals and irregular playing time.
Ryne Sandberg has a problem on his hands. Luckily, the Phillies don't have a lot of money invested in Revere. They don't have a long-term contract to worry about. But they do have a player who serves no purpose when he's not singling atop the order.
Why not move Jimmy Rollins back to the leadoff spot at this point? Rollins' OBP is 73 points higher than Revere's. Why not move Revere either into the two-hole or the eight-hole? Why not -- and this is really grasping at straws -- give John Mayberry Jr. some playing time in center?
I know, I know. Mayberry is a flawed player as well. But he can play passable defense in center, has a much stronger arm and possesses the ability to pull a ball down the line or run into a homer. At least with Mayberry, the potential for occasional value exists.
Revere's inability to get on base has been an underexamined issue for a team with too many of them. For a perfect example, look at Wednesday's shutout loss to the Angels. Chase Utley doubled twice against Garrett Richards. Revere was hitless in four at-bats. Two of the outs Revere made preceded those Utley doubles. Get on once ahead of Utley, who was the only Phillie seeing Richards well, and Wednesday's game is probably completely different.
Revere has made an out 72 percent of the time this season. The Phillies are basically giving away at-bats at the top of the order right now. That's a recipe for offensive failure.