Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ben Revere vs Kirby Puckett

It seems more and more that people want to call Ben Revere the second coming of Kirby Puckett, and frankly, the more I watch Revere play, the less I agree with the assessment. Of course, I was merely a year old when Kirby broke into the league, but I do remember Kirby's later career, and I have statistics to reflect upon.
Before I tell you where the players are different, let me first admit where they bear some similarity: Both are short black men who smile a lot and place center field rather well. Neither hit a home run in the first year in the league.
Now, for the differences. The first is that Kirby could hit. Despite his lack of power in his first season, Puck still hit .296. And he DID have a bit more power, hitting 12 doubles and 5 triples to Revere's 5 and 4. Puck managed to walk less and strikeout more, but he always hit line drives. He simply hit the ball harder than Revere, which is likely why his power spiked two seasons later. I suspect this will not happen with Revere. Puckett went from 0 homers to 31 in that stretch. (Of course, his 89 season, 3 more years later, he only had 9 HRs, but hit .339. If anything, his erratic bating profiles more like Joe Mauer than anyone)
Revere was better than Puckett in another statistical category. Ben Revere is much faster. Already at this point in his season, he has 30 stolen bases, compared to Pucks 14. That's pretty much it. Puckett was a much better hitter sooner in his career than Revere, and there is no other way to interpret it.
In fact, just trying to find a lead off hitting outfielder that has been as bad as Revere early in their career... it's tough. Randy Winn had more doubles and triples and a higher average in his first season, but the stolen bases are on point.For me, the closest comparison with the bat was Tony Gwynn. No, not THAT Tony Gwynn. His son. The one that is currently hitting .258 for the Dodgers. His stolen bases are approaching the level of Revere, but his bat through the first three seasons (which added up to admittedly fewer than Revere's first full season in the league) was so bad that Milwaukee kept sending him down. His combined average through three seasons was .248. Revere is hitting .249.
So. the next time you hear someone assert that Ben Revere reminds you of Kirby Puckett, tell them that he actually reminds you more of Tony Gwynn. Just don't tell them which one.

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