Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Evaluating Revere

(Before we get started, make sure you check out the information on this Saturday's TwinsCentric Twins gathering this Saturday afternoon at the bottom of this story.)

In Tuesday night’s podcast with Aaron Gleeman, we argued about Ben Revere for about 20 minutes. Aaron’s point (I think) is that people are getting all jacked up about guy who hasn’t been very good. My response was that given his defensive value, his youth (23 years old), inexperience (less than a half season at AAA), and the dearth of other positive stories this year, he’s been one of the bright spots.

(It’s a debate worth listening to, I think. I’ll be honest – by the time we finish each of these podcasts, I’m both wired and exhausted. I’m also almost sure that it sucks, but I publish it anyway. The next day I listen to it, decide it sucks less, and convince myself it might be worth my time to do it again next week. We would love your feedback on Twitter at @GleemanAndGeek.)

One doesn’t need to go far to convince oneself that Revere isn’t particularly valuable, especially at the top of the lineup. His on-base percentage is just .311 which is dangerously close to Carlos Gomez territory (career OBP: .289) – and he doesn’t have the power that Gomez could occasionally display.

For all the accolades that Revere has garnered, his OPS is just 610. Gomez cleared that in both of his years with the Twins, while also playing spectacular defense and stealing bases (33 in his first year with the Twins). Plus, Gomez was even younger than Revere. But he never received the love that Revere is enjoying now. Indeed, yours truly argued Gomez was an incredible liability – a liability with upside, but a liability nonetheless.

One reason for the lovefest might be that Revere has, despite those pedestrian overall numbers, seemingly made the most of his talents. If you look at his Win Probability Added (WPA), which measures how important his offense was in winning games, he grades out about average (-.17). So he’s provided average offensive production in the context of games, while playing a premier defensive position exceedingly well (+10.4 UZR). I’m going to stick with my label last night: bright spot.

However, this raises two questions:

1. Was Revere just lucky? That WPA outperforms his OPS considerably. Did he happen to get on base and steal bases at just the right time by chance? Or is it possible there is something about “piranhas” that provides extra value at critical times? I did a quick back-of-the-napkin study that I’ll share here tomorrow.

2. How can you set me (or Aaron) straight on our obvious ignorance? I suppose you could choose the yellow-bellied way out and use the comments below, but I’ll throw another option: tell us in person at the TwinsCentric event this Saturday afternoon. The TwinsCentric crew, plus Aaron, will be hosting a get-together for Twins fans at Manitou Station at White Bear Lake for the early Twins game. We’ll even be doing a Gleeman and the Geek podcast there, complete with mic for questions from you. We’ll start around 11:30 AM and stay until…well, I guess that would be a third question. See you there.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if one reason people see more in Revere than they did in Gomez is that they like Revere as a person. He's always smiling and seems to be a happy guy, someone they would want to be around. Gomez was moody and testy and acted like he thought he was better than he was. It's easy to let your heart overrule your head.

Jack Steal said...

John,

Let me get this right you and the genius (Gleeman) are saying Ben Revere pretty much sucks. Ok let's evaluate these comments from both of you. The kid is 23 years old with only 141 plate appearances in Rochester. He only played one season in New Britain (406 Plate appearances) and one season in Fort Myers (517 plate appearances). So in 5 years in the minors he has only 1654 plate appearances.

Compare that to the most over-rated Twin and biggest pussy in the world Denard Span (2428 Plate appearances) and spent 3 years in Rochester. How come nobody ever talks about why Span has been out not with concusssion symptons but because he is pissed at the Twins for talking trade at the deadline.

Revere is just 23 and is hitting
.264/.311/.298 with 33 stolen bases and might be one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game today. No he does no hit for any power and never will. However, more at bats suggest his extra base power and OBP will vastly improve. Another weakness he is does not have a great arm. This is a concern but he has improved at getting the ball in more quickly.

In my final analysis, I'm not saying Revere is going to be the next Kirby Puckett but holy moly cut the guy some slack. He has only a handful of AB's at the ML level and you guys hare him. Revere is a player you win championships around not Span.

BeefMaster said...

I think part of the Gomez/Revere dichotomy is due to expectations because of how they were acquired. Gomez had the misfortune of being the centerpiece of the Santana trade, and the expectations for him were, in retrospect, unrealistic - Twins fans wanted a star in return for Santana, and Gomez simply wasn't one.

Revere, on the other hand, was called up from the minors as an emergency fill-in due to injury, and for him to be anything less than a disaster was a pleasant surprise. That he made some legitimately incredible plays (the somersault triple, the ridiculous over-the-shoulder catch, the near-in-the-parker despite no fielding miscue) just sweetened the deal.

TheatreBrian said...

Jack, what post are you reading? John was arguing IN FAVOR of Revere. Jeez.

And cut Span some slack. He's a good guy. You take that hit to the noggin and see how you feel.

I like Revere. I think he has upside. And I like Span. Let's put them both in the OF with Cuddy, bat them 1-2, and see how it goes next year. I like it.

We just need some Mauer/Morneau action, and maybe some pitching.

Jim H said...

Actually, the way I remember it, there was plenty of love for Gomez, he just never got any better. Once the league figured out what he could do, they took the bunt away from him and quit throwing him strikes, and other than an occasional home run and an infield hit, he strikes out or pops up. It hasn't gotten better for him in Milwaukee either.

Revere has a lot of potential. He like Gomez probably needed more time in the minors. But, he has shown improvement in the majors and I believe he is a hitter. He might need to refine his swing a bit and get stronger but he is a hitter. Just like Carew and Puckett were. I don't think he is or will be in their class, but he is more of a hitter many speed guys. That is what gets me excited about him.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember Gomez ever being "testy." He was always smiling and truly seemed to be enjoying himself. Also, my wife considers him to be the most adorable Twin of recent vintage.

Craig and Alison said...

What I heard was Aaron spending 20 minutes shouting down anyone who would say that Ben Revere was a “bright spot” in this gloomy season.

I get that Revere can’t hit hard or throw, but he’s been playing a great outfield. I get that bad OBP loses games, but where would we be if Revere wasn’t here to fill in for Span?

According to Fangraphs, his defense made Revere the third most valuable player on the team this year, behind only Cuddyer and Span, and ahead of the man on Aaron’s pedestal, our meniscus-missing $23 million catcher, the ever-ailing Joe Mauer.

But mostly, I submit that Revere gave fans more than his fair share of fun. He had the catch of the year. FSN was able to do a long pre-game segment on his defensive highlights. He hit a triple while doing a somersault. He had another nice grab and a crazy triple just last night.

And I’ll take all the entertainment I can get in Twins baseball, especially this depressing year.