Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/12/13
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: That’s Jay Bruce that the ball sails over, and right about here is where the ball hit the ground: 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: 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: 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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