Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Turning to Ben Revere as leadoff man

One of the fallouts from the Denard Span trade last week is the promotion of Ben Revere to leadoff hitter and starting center fielder. Revere has served in this capacity at various times over the last couple of season when Span was dealing with a variety of injury issues. His defense has been exciting to watch and he has shown tremendous speed on the base paths but will Revere be able to handle the hitting approach it takes to be a lead-off hitter for a big league club?

Revere has played in parts of three seasons with the Twins but the bulk of his playing time has come in the last two years. He has hit .278/.319/.323 with not much power but that follows his minor league track record. During last season, Revere made some solid jumps by boosting his batting line to .294/.333/.342 with a little bit more power and consistent base stealing ability. These were steps in the right direction for Mr. Revere but his light hitting approach might make it hard to be consistent at the top of the order.

Scouting reports have made it easier for defenses to move in their defenses when Revere steps into the box. Looking at the spray chart shown below from Texas Leaguers, Revere seems to be able to find hits to all over the field but there isn’t a lot of damage done in the deep outfield. Opposing players are able to move their defense in considerably with Revere to try and take away some of his short hits. The Twins are relying on him continuing to improve his on-base skills and his ability to hit at a consistent level.
Revere has one of the highest groundball percentages in the major leagues and this can be an offensive flaw if he isn’t hitting the ball to the right spots. His speed helps him to beat out a few base hits and he is always a threat to steal when he reaches first base. Speed is a handy attribute to have and Revere needs to continue to use this skill to his advantage. The Twins might be looking to him to get more bunt base hits to start an inning and he will have to continue to improve on his skills in this department.

One skill important for leadoff hitters is the ability to work counts from the top spot in the order. Out of his 553 plate appearances in 2012, he reached a three ball count 93 times. It will be even more important to work ahead in the count as the first batter of the game. Last season he was ahead in the count more than he was behind and the Twins will want him to continue this trend as he settles into the full-time leadoff role.

During six seasons in the minor leagues, Revere showed the ability to get on base at a very good rate (.383). Most of this was driven by a very high batting average of .326 which is a number that he most likely won't be able to duplicate at the big league level. His batting average went up this year in his second full season and that average was higher than all but one full season from Denard Span. If Revere can continue to stay close to the .300 mark and make slight improvements to his OBP, the Twins will be happy with his results at the plate.

With other outfielder like Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia waiting in the wings, the Twins needed to trade Denard Span. Revere might not offer the power of Span but his speedy style is something fans already love. He is the latest man to follow the lineage from Kirby Puckett to Torii Hunter to Denard Span and Twins fans hope he is ready for the job.

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