Can Ben Revere steal 60 bases in 2014?



David Manning


Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere makes his money with his legs. Since coming to the organization a year ago, any hope in Revere producing in a meaningful way relies on his ability to get on base and steal a bag or two. It’s as simple as that.

In 1,400 career plate appearances, Revere has yet to hit a home run. Then again, Phillies legend and Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn only hit 29 HR in 9,736 PA. Therefore, it’s not like Revere is totally useless. While chicks dig the long ball, stolen bases count too. In baseball, speed is necessary and the Phillies center fielder has more than enough of it to suffice as a lead-off hitter.

Soon to be 26 years old, Revere is falling right in line with those who have stolen at least 60 bases since 2004. Despite no player reaching the 60 SB plateau since 2011, Major League Baseball has witnessed eight do so since 2004. Of those eight, Michael Bourn, Juan Pierre and Jose Reyes have reached the mark more than once. Since 2004, the average age of the individuals at the time they had stolen 60 bases was 27 years old.

Accordingly, the notion that it takes young legs to steal more than 60 bases is factually incorrect.

Many are projecting Cincinnati Reds rookie Billy Hamilton to top 60 SB immediately, so long as hit bat sticks in the majors. Hamilton will be 24 years old by the season’s end. He is an outlier though. Hamilton has set a precedent in the minors with 243 SB since 2011. Comparatively speaking, Hamilton’s ZiPS projected .264 AVG and .319 OBP pales in comparison to Revere’s .288 AVG and .326 OBP. Youthful excitement for what Hamilton might bring to MLB is overshadowing what Revere is capable of himself.

In 2011 with the Minnesota Twins, Revere stole 34 bases in 117 games. The next year he tallied 40 SB in 124 games with the Twins. In each of those two seasons, if Revere had played in 162 games, he would have stolen 47 and 52 bases, respectively. Last season, Revere stole 22 bags in 88 games prior to undergoing surgery for a fractured foot. Prorated for the duration of 2013, Revere’s final accrued number of SB would have been 41.

A jump in 19 stolen bases is difficult enough. However, Revere struggled mightily last April. A quadriceps strain and elbow injury derailed his debut with the Phillies. Revere labored intensely, hitting .200 in his first 35 games. During that span he stole only seven bases. It is important to note though, Revere lost his spot at the top of the lineup until late May due to his destitute play early on.

Injuries and unexpected toil at the plate played the role of a negative variable, hurting Revere’s chances at accomplishing more early in 2013. The first two months, coupled with a fractured foot in July, ruined what could have been a breakout season for the center fielder.

Despite some early woes, Revere would finish 2013 with a .305 AVG and .338 OBP. Among National League center fielders, Revere’s AVG was second best to only Andrew McCutchen while his OBP placed him at seventh, tied with Carlos Gomez. Revere’s 22 SB tied him for third among the group as well. Considering he only played in half the season, that is a remarkable feat. Aside from his lack of HR hitting prowess, Revere was very good at the plate in 2013.

Revere will play the role of catalyst for the 2014 Phillies. The organization is depending on his legs to invigorate success offensively. Hitting lead-off, the likelihood of Revere accumulating 60 SB, much like Willy Taveras did for Colorado in 2008, remains viable based on his previous production. If so, the Phillies should find success offensively.

Revere is in a position to steal bases much like Billy Hamilton. No, not Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton. Philadelphia’s Billy Hamilton. The one that stole 510 bases in the late nineteenth century for the Phillies.

The Phillies might not be contending for a World Series crown any time soon. In spite of lousy 2014 projections, the club could fare much better than anticipated. If they do, we will look back on what Revere did from the top of the lineup as an explanation for their success. He is a critical staple in the lineup. If the Phillies don’t fall to the basement of the NL East, Revere will be a primary reason why.