The play that perfectly sums up Ben Revere’s career occurred last Friday night.
With one out in the seventh, Revere tore from first on the pitch and kept going, blissfully unaware that teammate Jeff Francoeur had popped up to short right. When the ball was caught, Revere – who had already passed second -- scrambled back, but neglected to retouch second on his journey. And so we saw one of baseball’s rarest double plays.
Afterward, Ryne Sandberg suggested Revere may have been ignorant that for the past 158 years, baseball has required runners heading backwards to retouch a base. "I don't know that he knew he has to do that,” said the Fundamentals Manager. For his part, Revere insisted he knew the rule.
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I’m inclined to agree with Sandberg on this one. After watching Revere for the past three seasons, I’ve concluded he’s the dumbest player I’ve ever seen in red pinstripes.
He’s a speed guy who can’t hit the ball on the ground. A top-of-the-order hitter who rarely draws a walk. A fleet fielder who takes the wrong route to fly balls. I know Revere has tried – but failed – to improve his popgun arm. That’s no excuse for his habit of throwing away from the cutoff man. That the Phils have tried him in right field this season is a joke.
But wait, you say, look at the stats. Revere has hit above .300 the past two seasons, and stole 71 bases.
Hey, stats lie. Batting average means far less for a player like Revere than on-base percentage. And among the 120 qualifying hitters last season, Revere ranked 81stin OBP at a paltry .325. This year, it’s down to .311. The guy has the strike zone awareness of a nine-year-old in the backyard.
I can live with the lack of power – two homers in more than 2,100 at bats. What I can’t live with the lack of a baseball IQ. Nor, presumably, can 29 other Major League teams. The Phils have tried to market Revere this season, but found no takers.
Kevin Cooney of Calkins Media wrote a fine story Sunday asking baseball scouts to assess the trade value of several Phillies. Here is what two said about Revere:
Scout One: “He’s at best a fourth outfielder that you could use as a potential pinch-runner. The problem there is that he has terrible baseball instincts and is an awful baserunner.”
Scout Two: “I’ll pass, thank you. He makes one mistake a night that could kill you.”
None of this ever registers with the oblivious Ben, who smiles through it all. He's a nice guy who posts upbeat Twitter messages and, for the longest time, used Pharrell’s “Happy” as his walkup music. Asked about his goals before this season he said, “I just want to go out, have fun and play like a little kid again.”
Problem is, most little kids play smarter.