There seems to be two types of leadoff hitters employed in the major leagues: speedy, low OBP hitters, and slightly above-average speedsters with good OBP numbers. Ben Revere’s energy, both on the base paths and in the field, have led the revival of the Twins this month.
We haven’t received a lot of news regarding Denard Span since he was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list, but he presumably will return to the team at some point this season. This creates an interesting conundrum, as Span could be considered the prototype of the latter group mentioned above, whereas Revere leads the former.
On a whole, the second group is really what you want in a leadoff hitter. However, this doesn’t always happen. Twins fans remember Jacque Jones. Corey Patterson’s had a significant number of at-bats in the first two spots in the order, despite having a career .292 OBP. Joey Gathright was even thrust into the leadoff spot several times in his career, and the most significant moment of his career was likely hurdling Hiroki Kuroda in a 2008 spring training game.
The thought process behind placing these guys at the top of the order is simple. These are the players that are supposed to “make something happen” on the bases. They’ll steal plenty of bases, they’ll wreak havoc on the defense, they’ll go 1st to 3rd and 2nd to home at will, but the problem is that they need to be on the bases first.
Believe it or not, but Ben Revere has been awful offensively this season.
Well, maybe awful is the wrong word. Awful should be reserved for guys like Drew Butera, but Revere has technically been a bad hitter. He’s batting .269/.303/.298 on the season, which adds up to a putrid .601 OPS, and that’s even after including his 2 for 5 game Tuesday night. His wOBA (a catch-all offensive statistic on the same scale as OBP), which is .270 prior to Tuesday’s game, is tied for 41st worst among hitters* with at least 100 plate appearances in 2011. Seems a bit unbelievable now that this guy is getting credit for fueling a baseball team, huh?
* I realize that I failed to include the sample size in this fact. Sure, he could have been tied for 41st worst, but what if the sample constituted 50 players? (I guarantee it was much higher than 50). Anyway, since the website I got this data from (FanGraphs) updated their stats to include Monday’s games, Revere’s 2 for 5 night boosted his numbers a bit, but it’s still rather putrid. His wOBA is now .278, which is tied for 63rd worst out of 331 players with at least 100 plate appearances.
I suppose I might take the “Why mess with success?” route here, but when Denard Span comes back, Ben Revere should be moved back down to the bottom of the order, assuming that there’s even room for him with Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer heating up and Jason Kubel swinging a hot bat prior to his injury. A crazy suggestion might even be to have him sent back down to Triple-A to work on his ability to draw a walk, but I wouldn’t complain if he sticks in the majors and the Twins send Jason Repko packing.
All I know is that I want to see him continue to play. Revere is a fun guy to watch.