If you think a leadoff hitter should take a lot of pitches and walk at a fairly high rate, Ben Revere probably isn't your guy.
As of Saturday, Revere is the owner of a 2.2 BB%. In 529 plate appearances, he's only taken 12 walks. But his lack of reaching base via four balls is not because of impatience. He's not like Carlos Gomez, who chases pitches, whiffs at a high rate, and swings wildly at almost everything. Revere doesn't walk because he makes more contact than anyone.
Revere sees 3.59 pitches per plate appearance, which ranks 127th of 152 qualified hitters. Most of those are strikes: Of the 93 players with at least 500 plate appearances this season, Revere ranks 88th in balls seen. This means he rarely works himself into deep counts and never really has the opportunity to walk. But is it really his fault that pitchers only throw him strikes?
Let's put some numbers into a chart to get a better idea of what his hitting profile looks like.
As I said earlier, Revere doesn't swing at everything and anything; his swing percentage is well below league average. And he ranks either first or second in contact percentage, zone contact percentage and swinging strike rate. Additionally, as you'll see in the next chart, he doesn't swing at balls.
Just for fun, let's compare Revere to the player with the second-lowest walk percentage: Adam Jones.
Their walk rates are almost identical, but when it comes to patience at the plate, they couldn't be more different. Revere doesn't walk and doesn't strike out, while Jones doesn't walk and strikes out a lot. When looking strictly at each one's eye at the plate and swinging profile, Revere has much more value than Jones. Jones is an impatient hitter with holes in his swing. Revere, on the other hand, can hit the ball no matter where it is in the zone.
Because Revere doesn't walk, he needs to have a high BABIP in order to maintain a decent on-base percentage. And he does. Revere is hitting .338 on balls in play and has a .335 OBP, which is amazing considering his lack of walks. His speed definitely helps. If we gave Revere's swinging stats to, let's say, David Ortiz, his OBP and BABIP would plummet. But because Revere is a runner and has a speed score of 7.6 (third-highest in MLB), his high BABIP contributes to a solid OBP.
When looking at statistics like wOBA and wRC+, Revere is an average hitter. And sure, he'd be worth more if he walked, but what he's currently doing is working for him. If the season ended today, he'd win the NL batting title. Although he is an outlier, Revere is proving that a player doesn't have to walk to consistently get on base. It makes it a lot harder to go about it that way, but Revere is still getting it done. Don't automatically assume a player with a low walk rate has no patience. Before jumping to that conclusion, take a more in depth look, and you might end up being surprised.
. . .
Justin Schultz is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @JSchu23.