On January 8, Ben Revere's life took one of those turns that you cannot control. He got that phone call informing him he was traded to the Washington Nationals. Revere made one of his first phone calls to Denard Span, who only gave him positive comments about the Nats. Span and Revere were teammates with the Minnesota Twins, and Span was always a person Revere knew he could go to for advice.
The Nats would be Revere's third team within a year, as the Philadelphia Phillies traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays, and so this has started yet another journey towards enlightenment for Revere. This time, Revere gets paired up with Davey Lopes, who is said to be the best baserunning coach there is, and manager Dusty Baker took his "run and shoot" West Coast-style offense with him to D.C., which plays into Revere's sweet spot as he can run and shoot that ball all over the field.
Revere, 27, is replacing Span in theory, although Revere will just tell you he is just another player for the Nats helping this team win.
"We're going to have a real deep lineup," Revere said. "My guess, a lot of pitchers are really going to be intimidated like I was with the Blue Jays. You face one guy, it's like alright, cool, and then you got this guy and then, oh, great, they got this guy. Me, (Anthony) Rendon gets on, (Bryce) Harper comes up they go and pitch around him and walk the bases loaded for (Ryan) Zimmerman."
Revere's hidden value comes in his intangibles, where he steals bases and whoever hits behind him while he is on base will get the pitcher throwing from the "stretch" with a base open in front of Revere. That means the pitcher will try to release quicker to home plate and throw more fastballs. Revere will do his best to try to be a pest on the basepaths and cause some havoc.
Revere was 31 of 38 in stolen base attempts last year, and he hopes to increase those numbers this year. Revere's 2015 slash was .306/.342/.377 and he kept his reputation as a "hard out" as a contact hitter who only struck out 64 times last year.
Clark Spencer on the Miami Marlins beat for the Miami Herald wrote this about Dee Gordon; however, you could pencil in Revere's name just as easily: "Baseball sabermetricians aren't as keen on (Dee Gordon). He doesn't walk and hit for power."
Dee Gordon is the reigning National League batting champion who went into a facetious tone when talking about himself.
"In the baseball world, I [stink]," Gordon said. "It's the truth. It's seriously the truth. It's a fluke. No one thinks I play baseball good. These last two years, in baseball minds, it's a fluke."
Does Gordon have a right to be ticked? Stats are everything to players, and power is coveted in baseball and slugging percentage is a key stat. Players like Revere and Gordon fall into this statistical quagmire where the traditional stats can't value them properly. Every time Revere, Trea Turner and Gordon are on first base with second open, they are a threat to turn their one-bagger into a two-bagger. The non-power hitter doesn't get walked a lot because pitchers will challenge them with more strikes as there is less fear of giving up the home run.
"(Revere) doesn't walk much, but when he swings at it, he puts it in play. He don't foul off many, but he don't miss many," Baker said.
What would happen to Ben Revere's slash line from last year if we took his stolen bases and credited him for 31 extra bases in his slugging percentage and removed seven on-base opportunities for those caught stealing? Revere's line would be transformed into looking like more of a power hitter: .306/.331/.429. What a difference 31 more two-baggers would mean. A .760 OPS would have ranked Revere fourth on the Nats last year for qualified players.
"The No. 1 thing is speed, and speed kills. That's something the game doesn't have much of," Baker said. "When you have speed, it makes (the opponent) make mistakes he wouldn't normally make."
That is "Dusty Ball." Baker understands the speed game, and while it's a luxury to have a player like Revere, he must be pinching himself at the opportunity to be able to write in both Revere and Turner into his lineup sometime soon.
With Revere at the top of the lineup, you have one of the toughest batters to strikeout in the majors, and Rendon was third in the majors last year seeing 4.38 pitches per at-bat.
In fact, Daniel Murphy was first in strikeout percentage at only 7.1 and Revere was seventh at 10.1. Revere had the best offensive season of his career and had a good defensive season also with a +2.9 ultimate zone rating (UZR).
Where did Revere get this contact swing from? He was a disciple of the Ted Williams swing. Revere said you don't hit down on the ball, you don't uppercut on the ball, and you swing level and take your line drives.
Revere plays within himself and understands what he brings to the game, which is a high batting average, the ability to steal bases and play above average defense. Revere is the table setter to Harper's cleaning off the table. That is how Revere wants it to work. He gets it. He embraces it. He even credits his travel baseball coach back in Georgia for helping him perfect the level swing, and Revere has no problem giving credit to others, but he will also tell you what he thinks of those who augment their swing from the perfect path to hit more home runs.
"People are trying to teach the longball," said Revere. "I say, if you do that, you're just fooling yourself. That's what I tell kids. Batting average can go a long way and you'll be in the game a lot longer than hitting home runs. Yeah, you may hit a lot of home runs, but eventually injuries may happen or something may happen and a year ain't going your way."
Revere believes that he will get some home runs, but they will come off of pitchers' mistakes and not from altering his swing. Revere is just what Baker wanted when he asked for a leadoff man who can get on base and doesn't strikeout a lot.
Steve Mears blogs about the Nationals for Talk Nats. Follow the blog on Twitter: @TalkNats2. His thoughts on the Nationals will appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.
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