Part of the most fundamental joy of watching baseball games is seeing baseball players hit balls long distances. Guys like Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Chris Davis are exciting because at any moment they could put a ball over the fence and change the complexion of a ball game. Beyond the consequences to a game, home runs can also be exciting for their aesthetics alone. In this edition of the "MLB's Worst Tools" award I look at a guy who does not create any such excitement.
It comes as very little surprise that the most powerless player in the league is none other than Ben Revere. Much has already been written about the fact Revere has yet to park a ball in the seats at the big league level. In July, Jeff Sullivan looked at how close Revere has come to his first MLB dinger, while The Good Phight put out an excellent piece on the historical context of Revere's homerless streak earlier in the offseason. There isn't a lot of new information here. After all, his home run total still remains at 0. It should also be noted that Revere's career .045 ISO is the worst among players with over 1,000 plate appearances since Revere's debut in 2010, so it's not as if he's hitting a lot in the way of doubles and triples. Although Revere's ISO isn't leagues behind guys like Jamey Carroll and Chris Getz, there is something profound about the goose egg next to his career home run total that seems to put him at another level when it comes to powerlessness.
One of the primary reasons that Revere has so little power is that he is the purest ground ball hitter in the game. The following chart shows the top five ground ball hitters by GB/FB since Revere's debut:
|Player||GB/FB||Ground Ball%||Fly Ball%|
Beating the ball into the ground at every opportunity isn't the worst idea for a guy with Revere's speed, but it isn't going to help him break his borderline record-setting homerless slump. You need to hit fly balls to hit home runs, unless you are crushing laser beam line drives, which probably is a bit much to ask of the least powerful hitter in the league. You have to walk before you can run.
To put Revere's extreme ground ball tendency into perspective, Revere hits ground balls at a higher rate than Brandon Webb and his legendary sinker could force them. If Ben Revere had ever faced Webb you could have bet your bottom dollar on a ground ball being the result. So far in Revere's career, which has spanned 1400 plate appearances he has hit one more fly ball (160) than Jose Bautista hit last season in an injury-shorted year (528 plate appearances). Ground balls just don't result in round trippers, which is why Revere has yet to enjoy one.
Even with all the ground balls, 160 fly balls are more than enough for one to land in the seats, so the lack of home runs can also be attributed to a lack of strength, bat speed, and probably a fair dollop of bad luck as well. One of these days a Ben Revere fly ball is going to catch a favorable wind and carry out of the ballpark, it just hasn't happened yet. Even when it does, it won't be enough to loosen Revere's ironclad grip on the "MLB's Worst Tools" award for power, he's got that one sewn up for the forseeable future.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Nick Ashbourne is an Editor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Ashbourne.