Not literally, but the 2013 version.
Reds’ GM Walt Jocketty revealed in an interview at Redsfest this weekend that the Reds were on the verge of trading for Ben Revere, a player who is hard to distinguish from Taveras.
Revere is a pure slap-hitter. In over 1000 plate appearances, he has only 33 extra-base hits, with no home runs. That’s less power than Taveras. Less power than Willy Taveras. He hits more ground balls and has less power than any other hitter in MLB.
Also like Taveras, Revere is laughably aggressive at the plate. His walk-rate (5.4%) was similar to Taveras (5.1%) and is way below league average (8.2). Not exactly what you’re looking for in a leadoff hitter. As we’ve pointed out many times here, the problem with an OBP that heavily depends on batting average is that AVG fluctuates quite a bit. Taveras hit .320 in 2007 and .240 for the Reds. Walk-rates don’t slump much. Revere’s batting average (.278) was about the same as Taveras (.274). Revere steals bases about as much as Drew Stubbs although he gets caught stealing quite a bit more.
Is Revere an elite defensive centerfielder? Nope. His positive defensive stats come from playing the corner outfield last year while Denard Span played center. He’s fast, but the Twins GM recently admitted publicly that Revere has a below average arm. He is eerily similar to the Willy Taveras the Reds acquired in 2009.
[Shin Soo Choo, the Indians’ lead-off hitter last year who is now on the trade market, has a career OBP of .381, walk-rate of 11.4%, hits 20 HR/year, averages 88 extra base hits every 1000 PA, steals 20 bases/year and plays strong defense. Choo is a lead-off hitter worth pursuing.]
Who were the Reds going to give up to acquire Ben Revere? We can only speculate. But the Twins traded Revere to the Phillies for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May. Worley (25) is a serviceable #5 starter and May is the consensus #1 prospect in the Phillies system. Think Leake and Cingrani.
Think about that, did the Reds almost trade Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani for Ben Revere? /smh/
It’s hard to decide whether to feel an immense sense of relief that this calamity was avoided or serious discouragement that it was the Twins, not the Reds, who saved us.
What is clear is that the centerfield/lead-off position continues to be a devastating blind spot for the organization. To their credit, the Reds in recent years have done an excellent job valuing and acquiring big pitching arms and tight defensive players. But to say the Reds are old-school regarding centerfield/lead-off is a disservice to the idea of old-school. The Reds are Paleozoic. They shop for batting average and speed. They ignore the skill of walking, the stat of OBP or the value of hitting with even doubles-power.
And sadly, the evidence is mounting this isn’t just Dusty Baker’s outlook, it’s also Walt Jocketty’s. Jocketty, after all, was the Reds’ GM who signed Willy Taveras.