|Ben Revere may be playing for someone else next week|
When one thinks of Ben Revere, productive corner outfielder most likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. After all, corner outfield positions are associated with power hitting…power hitters who don’t have to play defense all that well to justify a spot in the lineup. By contrast, Revere is a 27-year-old outfielder listed at 5’9” and 170 lbs on the Phillies website (so consider him slightly less in both regards) who has a reputation of being a slap-hitting speedster with a weak outfield arm. That reputation is justifiable, as Revere has a career ISO of .053 and 3 home runs in over 2,400 plate appearances. However, if one only looks at the paltry power numbers, the bigger picture is being missed. That bigger picture is that Ben Revere is a league average hitter in 2015 who has contributed 1.9 wins above replacement in approximately half a year’s worth of plate appearances.
Revere is currently sporting a triple slash line of .302/.340/.381, which is good for a 101 wRC+, which would put him behind only Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold among Orioles outfielders, although Reimold has only accumulated 67 PAs (I’m considering Chris Davis a first baseman here). Yes, his offensive production is largely dependent on batting average, which makes his acquisition a little riskier, but he’s been very consistent over the last 3 years, as the table shows.
Revere isn’t necessarily another platoon player either, something of which the Orioles have plenty. While he’s had trouble against left-handers in 2015 (58 wRC+ in 92 PAs), he’s actually hit better against them than he has against right-handers over the course of his career (90 wRC+ against LHP in 715 PAs versus 85 wRC+ against RHP in 1,687 PAs). This could be a result of batted ball luck, but it illustrates that he’s not completely helpless against them.
If there is a significant difference in his offensive game this year, it’s his increased line drive rate (5% higher than career levels), which is likely driving his power “spike.” That increase in line drives has come at the expense of ground balls, but as long as those line drives don’t start turning into fly balls (the equivalent of baseball death for a player with Revere’s skill set), he should continue to produce at the plate as long as he retains his plus plus speed, which at 27 years old, should not be an issue over the next few years barring injury.
Speaking of Revere’s speed, he’s got plenty as he’s stolen 169 bases in 209 attempts over his career, good for an 80.8% success rate. He’s been better than that in 2014 and 2015 stealing 73 bases while being successful nearly 85% of the time. He’s consistently been one of the best baserunners in the game (Fangraphs has him worth 26.3 Baserunning Runs above average throughout his career) and would add a different element to an Orioles lineup that relies heavily on the home run. The Orioles are currently ranked 21st in Baserunning Runs, with 4.1 runs below average.
Revere’s speed benefits him on defense as well as it helps cover up some of the adventurous routes he takes at times to run down fly balls. Overall, he grades out as a plus defender in the corners according to UZR/150 (11.3 runs above average in LF and 18.7 in RF) and an average defender in CF in admittedly a much larger sample size 0.7 runs above average). Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is more pessimistic, having him as a slightly below average left fielder (-2 DRS in 524.1 innings), terrible in center field (-24 DRS in 3,308.1 innings), and above average in right field (11 DRS in 854 innings). Luckily with Adam Jones already on the roster, Revere would only need to play center in an emergency. He’s best suited for left field, as his weak arm – which has been worth 8.1 runs below average – is his biggest liability in the field.
The acquisition of Revere should be at least a 0.5 win upgrade over what the Orioles currently have on their roster. Zips projects Revere to be worth 0.7 wins the rest of season, while it projects Travis Snider, Chris Parmelee, and David Lough at 0.2 wins each (Nolan Reimold projects to be worth 0.1 wins for the remainder of 2015). He’s also under team control through 2017, which should be attractive to an Orioles team that does not have any position players in the farm system ready to contribute anytime soon. He’s not necessarily cheap though, as he is making $4.1 million in 2015 during his second round of arbitration (the Orioles would be on the hook for approximately $1.64 million in 2015). As a former super two player, he’ll get more expensive during his 3rd and 4th years of arbitration, but the Orioles will also have the opportunity to non-tender him if they don’t expect his production to match his escalating price.
So what would it take for the Phillies to part with Revere? I'm not exactly sure how each team would value these players, but I would think Parker Bridwell and a low minors lottery ticket would at least get the conversation started. Bridwell was the Orioles’ 17th best prospect heading into the 2015 season according to MLB.com. He’s a 23-year-old right-hander with good stuff and command issues, so there’s a chance he ends up in the bullpen. He’s currently pitching in Double-AA Bowie and has a 3.99 ERA, striking out 93 and walking 38 in 97 IP. Ultimately, acquiring an average, if unspectacular outfielder in Revere could help the team in 2015 and beyond (without necessarily being tied to him long term) at a potentially reasonable price. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be the most exciting trade, but it improves the Orioles now without mortgaging the future.