One of the deals that went under the radar after the blockbuster trades Alex Anthopoulos conducted the last week of July brought the Blue Jays a speedy outfielder in Ben Revere. He instantly brought back a much-needed aspect to the Jays lineup, hitting. Not hitting for power, just hitting putting bat on ball and filling the bases.
With Jose Reyes dealt to Colorado, the team lacked someone who could consistently get on base and rack up runs. While Revere took a while to get off the ground, once he did, he took off with a vengeance. In 53 games for the Jays, Revere hit for a .317 average and managed not only 72 hits in those games, but converted those into 35 runs. Opponents who let him reach base had to not only contend with the speedy Revere behind them, but the arsenal of bats that followed him.
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Revere was also a trained outfielder, preventing the need for positional infielders like Chris Colabello from stepping first base. This provided the Jays with some level of defensive stability, at the very least, which allowed the Jays to soar past the competition the last two months of the regular season. Revere flourished in the role as leadoff man, taking joy and pride every time he got to “stir the pot”.
Revere, the 2014 leader in hits for the National League, brought his bat with him. Despite going silent during his first full week as a Jay, he quickly returned to his old self. The Blue Jays needed not only a replacement for Reyes, but a sturdy one. Reyes had already missed time with injury, eliminating a true leadoff man. As the Jays pushed towards the postseason they needed a stable force atop their lineup, and one with less risk of falling apart as September drudged on. Revere was that man.
While Revere certainly served as an upgrade to what the Jays’ defense had been, it wasn’t the fielding that was anticipated. He had always been an hovering as an average defender in left. Sometimes downright awful, and other times brilliant. Revere could track a ball to the warning track, but seemed unable to manage plays that were any trickier and continues to have one of the weaker outfield arms in baseball. Perhaps the disappointment is linked to the fact that Kevin Pillar made impossible plays multiple times every day, from almost every position. That said, the facts are clear. Revere had a tough time navigating the turf of Rogers Centre and that cost him at times. So while Revere served as an above average defensive replacement at the time, that novelty quickly wore off.
Revere’s future as a Jay remains uncertain. The Blue Jays can control him for two more years for arbitration, and the cost to do so could be beneficial, as the Jays do not yet have a clear leadoff hitter without him. More likely, the Blue Jays will attempt to use him as trade bait. Either as part of a package to lure a top-end starter, or perhaps to grab another bat. All of that aside, if Revere stays in the fold he will continue to provide the contact speed the Jays will require atop their order. Defensive woes aside, Revere can still be a major benefit to the Blue Jays. His NL hits title wasn’t a fluke, and having a man who’s almost guaranteed to become an RBI for one of the four bats that come behind him is a major boon.