Revere failing to set the table for Phillies' silent offense

Revere failing to set the table for Phillies' silent offense

April 17, 2013, 10:45 am
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Ben Revere played only three games against the Phillies before being traded to them last December. Playing in the AL Central, those who aren’t religious MLB.TV or Extra Innings watchers didn’t see much of his game.

So after a deal sent Vance Worley and Trevor May to Minnesota for the Phillies’ centerfielder of the future, many looked to Revere’s brief three-year track record to figure out what type of player the Phils were getting.

The stats showed a speedy CF who didn’t strike out, had .300 potential but didn’t walk enough to post an on-base percentage higher than .340. The OBP was a concern, but the thought was that Revere would tally enough bunt hits, enough infield singles, enough seeing-eye base hits to offset the low walk total. Once on, his speed (74 steals the last two seasons) would put him in scoring position for the middle of the Phillies’ order.

None of that has happened so far. He’s been tremendous defensively, but through 14 games Revere is hitting .207 with a .258 on-base percentage. He’s on pace to strike out 115 times, after striking out exactly 100 times in three seasons with the Twins.

Revere had 32 infield hits and nine bunt singles last season. Through 63 plate appearances with the Phillies, he has two infield hits and one bunt single. He’s hit 33 balls on the ground and beaten out two.

Revere got out to great starts last year. He hit .355 in the first inning. This year he has two hits in 14 first-inning plate appearances and has scored once.

When Carlos Ruiz returns and Delmon Young joins the Phillies, the lineup will likely change. The logical switches would move Jimmy Rollins to leadoff, Michael Young to the two-hole, Ruiz to fifth, Delmon Young to sixth or seventh with Domonic Brown occupying the other spot, and Revere down to eighth. Maybe Revere will thrive under less pressure.

But right now, with the offense sputtering and the Phillies getting next to nothing from their seventh and eighth batters, they need the guys at the top of the order to get on base. Revere’s OBP is 97 points lower than the National League average for leadoff batters.

If you’re looking to find reasons why this team isn’t hitting, why it’s scored in just seven of its last 53 innings, why it’s failing to score early and batting .184/.241/.297 after the fourth inning, this is why. The leadoff batter isn’t getting on base, there isn’t enough power at the bottom and the middle of the order can’t do it all.

If we told you in the final week of March that through the middle of April Yuniesky Betancourt would have more RBIs than every Phillie expect Chase Utley, would you have believed it?

Would you believe that Joey Votto would have more walks (21) than Revere, Rollins, Utley, Ryan Howard, Brown, Laynce Nix and Erik Kratz combined?

Probably not. But that’s what happens when your leadoff batter has a .258 OBP and your team has a composite .291 OBP.

How much longer can Revere lead off if he’s not getting on base? How much longer can the Phillies continue this swing-swing-swing approach to hitting before they realize once and for all it doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked in recent years and it won’t work in the future? The team OBP was .354 in 2007, dropped to .334 by 2009 and has continued to decrease every year since.

Plenty of early questions. Ruiz returns on April 28. The offense can’t possibly keep up this low level of production. But the approach isn’t a 14-game problem. This isn’t a small sample. It’s more of the same.

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