One of my very first articles here at Beyond the Box Score was about Ben Revere. Specifically, it was about how the Steamer projection system had forecast that Revere would hit three home runs in 2015. A mark of three would have been a career high and would have been even more remarkable considering that Revere entered the 2014 season with exactly zero home runs. He finished with two. First, there was nothing. Then the baseball gods spoke, and from nothing dingers, sweet miraculous dingers, came forth.
Revere hit another two this season, but that third Steamer-foretold homer eluded him. My article had sought to (jokingly, but we'll forget that minor detail for now) predict just how Revere would hit those three homers. I named Craig Breslow, John Axford, and Brad Hand as his victims. All three men escaped the season without surrendering a home run to him. Instead, he teed off on Max Scherzer (!) and Michael Pineda. His career home run total doubled, and his career ISO went from .048 to .052. Progress! Let's see how he hit those home runs.
The Scherzer home run came on June 26th in Philadelphia.
Revere got the fattest of meatballs straight down the pipe. Scherzer's catcher set up on the outer half of the plate, but Max missed and left 93 MPH of meat over the middle of the plate. Revere got a good hack on it and deposited the pitch in the first row of the right field seats. Most hitters put that ball fifteen rows back. This is Ben Revere, so with a few fewer feet of carry, it lands in Matt den Dekker's glove instead of gracefully in the fan's armpit. Baseball.
It's surprising to see a pitcher of Scherzer's quality give up a homer to someone like Revere. Scherzer is, after all, an excessively good pitcher with a Cy Young award under his belt. Well, it should be noted that Scherzer gave up 26 home runs other than Revere's in 2015, his highest mark since 2011. This did not stop Scherzer from being utterly brilliant (6.4 fWAR, higher than his Cy Young season) but it shows that no one is truly safe from being ambushed by Revere. Not even you.
The Pineda home run happened on September 12th. It was a truly ugly day of Yankee baseball, not only because Ben Revere was allowed to homer, but because the Yankees lost a double-header to the Blue Jays by a combined score of 20-4.
He connected with another fastball, and once again the pitcher missed his target. Brian McCann set up on the outer half, Pineda pumped it down the middle, and Revere barely cleared the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium's right field. It's the Lincoln Chafee of home runs. It's the one yard touchdown that comes when the carrier is brought down just in front of the endzone, but he reaches over the line with the football just enough for it to count. Not as impressive as a Jose Bautista moonshot or a Tom Brady surgical airstrike, but hey, it counts.
Pineda gave up 21 home runs in his first full season back from a litany of shoulder surgeries. Along the way he dealt with forearm issues and more in his tumultuous 160 innings of work. Revere was one of approximately ten thousand Blue Jays to take Pineda deep this year, and he actually did it to what isn't the shortest part of the Stadium's short porch. It went only about 380 feet (which is an out in most stadiums). Baseball is a funny sport like that.
The Steamer projections for 2016 are already out, and lo and behold, they tell us once again that Revere will reach the three-homer mark. That's not entirely unrealistic. Revere will play the 2016 season in a Blue Jays uniform and half of his games will be played in home run heaven Toronto. He'll also play a large number of games in Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards. It's much too early to create imaginary scenarios for the three projected Revere home runs. Pitchers will be moving about to different teams and it's not entirely out of the question that Revere himself is traded before opening day. Imaginary home run scenarios are serious business after all.
What we do know, however, is that Revere can do bad things to good pitchers because good pitchers make bad pitches. Scherzer and Pineda aren't exactly Boone Logan and the creature masquerading as Rafael Soriano at the end of 2014. Even Clayton Kershaw isn't immune to grooving pitches. Looking for some sort of pattern in Ben Revere's home runs is an exercise in futility. It is a look into the ether of small sample sizes, a search for noise in almost deafening silence.
It's a silly exercise, but between all the acronyms and charts around these parts it's important to have fun every now and then. Once the dust of what's sure to be a wild offseason (Andrelton Simmons to the Angels! What a world!) settles, we'll take a look at potential Super Slugger victims. Beware, ye pitchers of the AL East.
The Super Slugger cometh.