Dating back to 1984, when a skinny kid named Kirby Puckett made his major league debut in a Twins uniform, this franchise has built an impressive lineage of center-fielders. From Puck to Torii Hunter, Denard Span, and now Byron Buxton, those roaming the widest swath of Dome turf or Target Field grass have exhibited strong skills with both glove and bat.
One name often gets lost in the shuffle—that of Ben Revere. While not in Minnesota for long (2010-2012), Revere proved to be a dynamo in the field, a terror on the base paths, and could hold his own at the plate. Despite possessing a few key deficiencies that would always limit his ceiling, Revere was a personal favorite of mine whom I’ve always felt departed too soon.
Though given a “cup of coffee” (30 PA) in 2010, Revere burst onto the scene more fully in 2011. That year, at the age of 23, he hit .267 and stole 34 bases in 481 PA. The next season saw him achieve even greater heights: 553 PA, .294 BA, 40 SB.
Not featuring the freakish athleticism of a Byron Buxton or the stylistic flair of a Torii Hunter, Revere could still muster similar feats in the outfield. He was also an accomplished and efficient thief on the bases. While mostly a slap or singles hitter, he was a fun batter who seemed to produce his share of hilarious moments with the Twins—always punctuated with a wide grin.
Oh yeah—his walk-up song was one of my favorites too.
Of course, Revere had some built-in limitations. His arm was maybe the worst I’ve seen for any outfielder—like, ever. He exhibited no power (zero homers in a Twins uniform) and usually had OPB numbers nipping at the heels of his SLG%.
Following the 2012 campaign, the Twins traded Revere to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Trevor May (a promising young arm) and Vance Worley (who would embarrassingly start the 2013 opener for the Twins). They may have given up on him a bit too soon.
In Philly from 2013-2014, Revere’s production continued to increase. He hit over .300 in both of those years, continued to swipe bases at will (49 in ‘14), and kept robbing hits from opposing batters. In 2015, playing in both Philly and Toronto, Revere had perhaps his finest single season: .306 BA, .719 OPS, 181 H, 31 SB, and even 2 HR!
What sticks in the craw even more? Ostensibly, Revere was shipped out because the Twins thought Aaron Hicks was ready to man CF, which proved to be too hasty of a bet. Hicks never really blossomed in MN (the too-early starting gig may have had something to do with that) before turning things around in New York of late.
No one will ever confuse Ben Revere with a superstar ballplayer. But he was fun to watch, energized a crowd, and would have perhaps flourished even further in Target Field’s spacious outfield. Over the next few seasons (‘13-’14), the Twins trotted out such outfield defensemen as Chris Parmelee, Clete Thomas, Wilkin Ramirez, Danny Santana, & Darin Mastroianni. It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see a full-time Revere being more valuable/exciting than any of those players.
Imagine a scenario in which Revere stayed with the Twins for a few more seasons. In 2015, the outfield could have consisted of him, Torii Hunter, and Eddie Rosario, allowing Buxton a bit more time to work on his batsmanship in the minors. Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but the loss of Revere is one I look back on and think “what if?”.