Listen my children and you shall hear
of the late-season slump of Ben Revere.
Since the 8th of August a month ago
the pace of his hitting has gotten so slow
that all of Twins Territory is shedding a tear.
About a month ago, Ben Revere was hitting so well he deserved to have a famous poem written about him. After raking four hits against the Indians, Revere’s average soared to a stellar .331, enough to stir some talk that he might compete for the batting title. Sadly for Revere and the Twins, that moment quickly evaporated. The .331 number turned out to be his peak, and his batting average has slid steadily south ever since. A few days ago, he even dropped below .300 (though a two hit performance on Sunday raised him back up to .301).
A lot of baseball stat people will tell you that batting average is not the best measure of a player’s success, and that is largely true. However, for a hitter like Revere, who does not walk much and has essentially no power, maintaining a high average is the key to his usefulness at the plate. When Revere’s up around the .320 to .330 range, he becomes a valuable leadoff hitter, with an on-base percentage at or above .350. But subtract 30 points from the batting average, and Revere starts to look more like a bottom of the order hitter. This is discouraging, especially with regular leadoff man Denard Span on the Disabled List.
Revere’s slump started on August 7th, when he went 1-5 against the Indians. He followed that up with an 0-4 game to finish the Cleveland series, then he hit safely just once in 14 at bats in the ensuing series against the Rays. There have been some breaks in the skid – a four hit game at Texas on August 26th and three consecutive two hit performances against Detroit – but not enough to make one think Revere is breaking out of the slump. His overall line since August 7th is .225/.291/.267 in 29 games with just three extra base hits.
Not coincidentally, the Twins have been awful during that time. In the last 30 days, Minnesota has hit a collective .259/.316/.370. This is on the heels of an excellent team performance in July, when the Twins led the American League with a .287 team average and a .349 on-base percentage (Revere’s July line was .311/.360/.379). Since Revere stopped hitting, the team has a dismal 9-21 record.
To be fair, one cannot blame the team’s misfortunes entirely on Revere. Any analysis of the Twins’ 2012 misery has to begin with the starting pitching. And we can’t even blame Revere for the offense’s troubles, since Span’s injury probably plays a significant part. But Revere’s performance has been a pretty good bellwether for the rest of the team. Basically, when Revere does well, the Twins are not nearly as awful. When he gets on base, the team as a whole gets on base more often, and as a result they score a lot more runs. When the team scores a lot of runs, those terrible starting pitchers have to work much harder to blow leads.
Just look at how the Twins have performed at various points in the season. Revere spent April and most of May on the bench or at AAA, and the Twins were horrid. With a 12-26 record on May 17th, the Twins called Revere up, and they started to play .500 ball. In fact, they were exactly .500 from May 17 through August 1 with a 33-33 record. Revere hit .319 in those two and a half months. Then, as mentioned above, Revere started to slump, and so did the Twins.
Could this be a case of a young player tiring out as the season progresses? It’s possible, since he has never played a full season in the Major Leagues, and between AAA and MLB, Revere has already racked up 564 plate appearances. But he didn’t look tired last season, when September was his best month by far (he hit .311/.342/.368). It’s also possible that Revere is experiencing some growing pains. He has made some major progress this season, and even after the slump his average has jumped more than 3o points over last year. Next year Revere will turn 25, so he might be even better and closer to his prime years. One other possibility is that it’s just a typical slump of the kind that every player experiences, one that he’s likely to hit out of any day now. This article was written before Monday night’s game, so if Revere got a few hits last night, we can hope that he’s snapping out of it already.
Whatever the cause of his troubles, it’s likely that the Twins’ fortunes will continue to be closely intertwined with Revere’s in 2013. With young outfield prospects such as Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia knocking on the door and Chris Parmelee poised to earn some starts in right field, the Twins might look to trade Span in the offseason. This would leave Revere as the team’s unquestioned leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder. We’ll all feel better if we can be confident that Revere will hit on a consistent basis.