It's not at all uncommon for a player to miss a sizeable chunk of time early in the season due to injury, then struggle at the plate for a prolonged stretch even when healthy at last. Ben Revere, though, is testing the boundaries of that phenomenon right now, and the end result is one awfully frustrating leadoff man.
In nine games since returning from a strained right oblique muscle, Revere is a scant 4-for-41 at the plate. When he looked up at the scoreboard following his final at-bat yesterday in the Nationals' 5-1 loss to the Marlins, he saw a batting average of .093 next to his name.
"I feel like Charles Barkley and all those guys from Space Jam, with all their power taken from them," he said in one of several moments of levity during a postgame session with reporters.
Whatever the case, Revere neither looks nor feels like his usual self right now. This is, after all, a career .295 hitter prior to this season, a model of consistency with final batting averages of .305, .306 and .306 the last three years.
"It's the type of deal where it's there, but just the rhythm and everything is offset," he said. "I don't know. My guess is that I need to still look at some film and look over some stuff, just keep on swinging, swinging and swinging."
Revere's swing may be out of whack, but he's also legitimately been the victim of bad luck, regularly hitting at least one ball hard per game right at a defender. His current .105 batting average of balls in play - worst among all National League hitters with at least 40 at-bats by 62 points - can be considered nothing but an anomaly, impossible to sustain over the long haul.
"In a way, it's a good sign that I'm hitting the ball good," he said. "That's one thing, then going deep in the count (is another). The average doesn't say I'm doing great on paper, but it's going to come along."
And Revere is going to continue getting opportunities to turn things around. Manager Dusty Baker made it clear yesterday the 28-year-old isn't in any danger of losing his regular job atop the lineup.
"We've got to stick with Ben, because you're not going to find it sitting," Baker said. "And Ben has hit some balls on the nose, probably as much as anybody in our lineup. He's frustrated. We're frustrated. But he's more frustrated because he's hit some balls well. And he hasn't had any holes. All he needs is a couple of cheap hits, and some more at-bats, and hopefully he'll be a Met-killer like he's been the rest of his career."
The Nationals could certainly use some production out of Revere during this week's showdown with the Mets at Citi Field. With their collective leadoff men hitting .171 with a .219 on-base percentage (far and away the worst in the majors), they aren't exactly putting No. 3 hitter Bryce Harper in prime position to bat with runners in scoring position.
Baker is standing behind Revere, and Revere is standing behind his track record, determined to prove to his new club he still can be the player he was the last three seasons.
"It's my first year with the team, but we have great coaches and great teammates here having my back, and everything like that," he said. "I told them: Just don't give up on me yet. To the fans: Don't give up on me yet. I'm going to keep fighting. By the end of the year, hopefully I can bring great adventures to this ballclub."