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Ben Revere: Super slugger

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Ben Revere went yard for the first time last year, and then he did it again. The Steamer projection system pegs him for three more in 2015. With the help of a crystal ball, some minor time travel and an understanding of the average Ben Revere home run, I'm going to tell you precisely how Revere does his best Barry Bonds impression in 2015.

Revere, taunting those who would stand before his 20-grade power.
Revere, taunting those who would stand before his 20-grade power.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The man in the above photo is one Ben Revere, a Major League baseball player. He is currently employed by the Phillies of Philadelphia of the National League of Anaheim. Revere has played in 493 games for the Phillies and his original club (the Minnesota Twins), and has compiled a total of 2026 plate appearances. Over that time he has a .291 batting average, 145 stolen bases, and two whole home runs. Revere may also be able to fly when the urge strikes him, but that’s neither here nor there.

What’s truly fascinating is that Steamer projects Ben Revere to hit a whopping total of three homers this season. If the stars align and Revere and his career .048 ISO really do hit three home runs, what sort of magical mix of factors would have to come together for that to transpire? As it so happens, I come equipped with a baseball crystal ball, so I can tell you all about these long balls.

Let’s figure out what an endangered species of homer looks like. Both Revere’s two career homers came last year. Here’s the first:

Revere tagged a 1-1 91-mph Boone Logan fastball, and sent it into the right field stands at Citizen’s Bank Park. The fastball was high and in on Revere’s hands, and a quick whip of a swing gave it just enough kinetic chutzpah to turn into four bases. Now here’s homer number two:

Another high pitch! This one was an 85 mph hanging slider, however. Rafael Soriano was having the latest in a series of rough nights. Prior to the Revere dinger, Soriano had surrendered a Dominic Brown single and a Carlos Ruiz homer before getting Maikel Franco to ground out and striking out Cody Asche. That was just one of many meltdowns that lead to Soriano being unemployed with Opening Day in striking distance. Either way, we’ve got ourselves something of a pattern regarding Ben Revere home runs, if two points of data can be called a pattern (spoiler: nope!). He seems to have the capacity to pounce on balls up and in to send them over a relatively shallow right field wall. For fun, here are the charts displaying (from the catcher’s perspective) where the pitches Revere tagged were in the strike zone. As we observed above, they were inside on Revere’s hands. Keep that in mind, it’s important.

I now have the task of creating three more scenarios relatively close to these two. Interestingly, Revere has stronger statistics against same-side pitchers than the typical favorable match-ups against opposite-handers. He recorded a .338 wOBA against southpaws in 2014, and only .290 against righties. So, it would make sense to have at least two of these homers come against lefties.

HOMER #1 – APRIL 6TH

It’s Opening Day! The Red Sox are in town for an interleague game. Rick Porcello and Cole Hamels face off in a surprisingly close game, but Philadelphia pulls ahead in the sixth when newly minted "left fielder" Hanley Ramirez bungles a play and two runs score. Porcello puts another runner on with two outs, and John Farrell brings in lefty Craig Breslow to face Revere as the lineup turns over. If only Farrell knew what he had just unleashed. The following displays how opposing batters slugged against Breslow in 2014.

The hardest-hit zones are right in Revere’s figurative wheelhouse. A hung 2-1 slider gets looped over the wall, Revere increases his career home run total by 50%, and Jonathan Papelbon blows the save after his subordinates let the Red Sox back into the game. The Phillies fall under .500 despite the herculean efforts of the valiant Ben Revere.

HOME RUN #2 – MAY 20TH

The Phillies are wrapping up a visit to Coors Field, so already we have some divine conspiracy forming to allow Revere to fulfill his Steamer destiny. The Rockies won the first game of the series behind some flashy hitting from Troy Tulowitzki (still healthy!) and Nolan Arenado, and the Phillies won the second after they jumped all over Colorado’s Triple-A fill-in starter of the day in the first and second innings. Ken Giles and Papelbon lock down the game in the 8th and 9th, and we’ve got ourselves a rubber game.

It’s the 7th inning. John Axford is in the game in Rex Brothers’ normal spot, because the lefty was traded to the Mets just after opening day to fill in for the injured Josh Edgin. Axford, predictably, has had a rough go of it with the Rockies. The former closer’s pronounced home run bugaboo has been playing up to the nth degree at the stadium in the sky, but the Rockies need all the arms they can get. He retires pinch hitter Jordan Danks (batting for the pitcher) before Revere comes to the plate.

Axford’s right-handed, which we’ve established can sometimes be an issue for Revere. Yet one of Revere's two homers last year was hit off the right-handed Rafael Soriano, who was largely Soriano-lite at that point. Axford has been Axford-lite for a few years now. Did I mention this game is taking place at Coors Field? Also, take a gander at this.

Axford got positively spanked in Revere’s homer zone last year. It’s a nearly perfect storm that the Steamer gods have concocted to bring about Revere’s second homer, which he claims on an 0-1 hanging curve. Axford’s curveball was his worst pitch last year at -3.7 runs below average, according to FanGraphs’ Pitch F/X run values. Ben Revere’s quest is nearly complete.

HOME RUN #3 – OCTOBER 4TH

Revere hasn’t hit a homer in months. People begin to wonder what’s happened to their new favorite slugger. Cole Hamels has been traded away. Chase Utley has been traded away. Ryan Howard is on the DL. Jonathan Papelbon has been traded away and Ken Giles is the closer. The Nationals are about to win their 95th game. The Marlins and Mets are tied for the second Wild Card spot, but the Fish are one out away from defeating the Phillies at Citizen’s Bank Park. That’s before Maikel Franco doubles off Steve Cishek and Cody Asche brings him in to tie the game and put it into extra innings.

The Phillies and Marlins trade 0’s until the 12th inning. Then Brad Hand, whom the Fish have kept around for depth despite him being out of options, enters the game for the long haul in case that the tie stays in place for much longer. Ben Revere comes to the plate with one out.

A mighty battle begins. Revere fouls off pitch after pitch until he works a 3-2 count. All of Philadelphia is on its feet. Hand pumps in one of his -4.3 runs below average fastballs in on Revere’s hands in an effort to jam him. Ben Revere sends the pitch into the fourth row in right field. The crowd explodes with joy while Revere rounds the base with his fist raised. The Phillies have just won their 66th game of the season, and that is how their 2015 ends. The Steamer gods look on with pleasure as what has been a truly painful season in the City of Brotherly Love ends on a high note. Peace on Earth, good will toward all men, all that jazz.

Ben Revere has successfully increased his career home run total by 150%. Who else can claim to have done that over the course of a single season (don’t answer that, you spoilsport)? Eat your heart out, Giancarlo Stanton. Ben Revere is the true super slugger of our time.

Just don’t ask him to throw out a runner at home. Please, please don’t ask him to do that. Think of the children.

. . .

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com, and charts courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net. GIFs of gameplay via MLB.com.

Nicolas Stellini is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.