Phillies' Ben Revere's homerless streak reaches milestone
Ben Revere didn't hit a home run Tuesday night. That's nothing new: Ben Revere hasn't hit a home run since May 30, 2011, when he was with Triple-A Rochester, and he has never hit one in the major leagues. Still, Revere's failure to hit a round-tripper Tuesday night made the record books, as he's now reached 1,410 career plate appearances without one. Since 1947, no hitter (pitchers excluded) has stepped to the plate that many times in his career without hitting a single homer.
Prior to Revere, that record was held by former Brewers and Blue Jays infielder Tim Johnson, who made 1,408 major league plate appearances from 1973 to 1979 without hitting a home run. Johnson is perhaps better remembered among today's fans for being the Blue Jays manager who was fired in March 1999 after revelations that he had lied about serving in Vietnam. Johnson, who has since found work managing in the independent leagues, may be relieved to have one of those black marks wiped from his record, but though Revere has passed him for now, the distinction may yet revert to Johnson.
While Revere is now the post-integration leader in plate appearances without a career homer, several players who eventually did collect a dinger all had longer homerless streaks to start their careers. In the integrated era alone, Alex Cole (1,508 PA from 1990 to 1994), Duane Kuiper (1,532 PA from 1974 to 1977), and Greg Gross (1,887 PA from 1973 to 1977) all went deeper into their careers before hitting their first (and in Kuiper's case, only) home run. If Revere hits a home run in his next 476 plate appearances (all of which should come this season), he'll not only avoid topping Gross for longest homerless streak since 1947, but he'll also hand Johnson's homerless record back to him.
Given Revere's speed, it's actually quite surprising that he hasn't at least managed an inside-the-park home run to this point in his career. He does, after all, have 14 triples in his career and hit five home runs in the minor leagues in 1,755 PA. Revere tried for an inside-the-parker twice in 2011, but was thrown out easily both times.
Revere may yet avoid infamy, thanks in part to his new home ballpark. After the 2012 season, I wrote about Revere's homerless streak over at SB Nation and included this spray chart that covered his major league career (both charts that follow are from TexasLeaguers.com):
The outline for that spray chart is the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which is odd, because Revere never played there, making his major league debut in 2010, the season that the Twins opened Target Field. Still, Target Field has similar dimensions and is a foot deeper down the rightfield line, explaining the one hit placed beyond the outfield fence above (which may also have been a ground-rule double).
Now, here's Revere's updated career spray chart, with many of those same hits laid over the outline of Citizens Bank Park:
Three of the four hits beyond Citizens Bank Park's leftfield wall are on the first chart, but were not home runs because of the ballpark. The latter chart uses the original dimensions of Citizens Bank Park, before that leftfield wall was pushed back five feet, but it would still seem that Revere does have the ability to reach the leftfield stands in his home ballpark (surprising given that he's a left-handed hitter, but many home runs are hit to that part of that ballpark). Then again, the data points above reflect where a ball was fielded or, in that one case, hopped over the wall. It's possible that none of those four hits went that far on the fly, or at least wouldn't have been high enough to clear the wall when they got there.
Revere won't turn 26 until May and is plenty valuable thanks to his speed, solid averages (.285 career with his yearly marks improving each season thus far), and strong play in centerfield. Given his youth and the number of opportunities he will receive as the Phillies' leadoff hitter, chances are Revere will eventually hit a home run, whether or not it comes on a ball that actually clears the fence. In the meantime, however, here are some of the all-time records he is reluctantly chasing:
1,559 - most career PA without a home run since integration, including pitchers (Don Sutton, 1966-1988, not counting 24 homerless PA in the postseason)
1,887 - most PA to start a career without a home run since integration (Greg Gross, 1973-1977)
2,073 - most career PA without a home run in the modern era (Tom Oliver, 1930-1933)
2,592 - most PA to start a career without a home run, all-time (Emil Verban, 1944-1950, not counting 19 homerless PA in the 1944 World Series)
2,593 - most career PA without a home run, all-time (Dave Eggler, 1871-1885)
3,605 - longest homerless streak, all-time (Tommy Thevenow, 1926-1938)*