When Dusty Baker was introduced as the Nationals' new manager in November, he made it clear he wanted the Nats to play faster and more aggressive on the basepaths. So, in January the Nationals gave him some help by trading for Ben Revere, one of baseball's fastest players and best base stealers.
Revere comes to Washington having stolen 31 bases the season before. He stole 49 in 2014 and had 40 steals back in 2012. Last year the Nationals were led by Michael Taylor in the category and he only had 16.
There's no question Revere fits into Baker's playing style and it's not surprising to hear the veteran skipper has coveted Revere for years.
"I was this close to getting traded [to the Reds], but it didn't go through," Revere said. "I talked to him a lot in my first and second season in the bigs when he was still with the Reds... it was interleague during BP when I was with the Twins against the Reds. He told me 'I'm trying to get your butt over here so prepare yourself.' It didn't go through, but now a few years later we're here. So that's good."
Revere always wondered what it would be like to play for Baker, who boasts 20 seasons as an MLB manager. He now has a good idea of the person Baker is after spending over a month with him during spring training.
"He just knows the game and he makes everyone in the clubhouse comfortable. That's it," Revere said. "He's not overpowering. He says to the guys 'hey, here's the deal.' It's cool. We know that and we listen to him. You can hear a pin drop when he talks to us. That's how much command he has and how much we want to listen to the guy."
For Revere, all he heard about Dusty over the years has been proven true. But Baker's résumé also does some speaking for itself.
"Even just hearing from other guys, he's a phenomenal coach. Just looking at his stats, he goes to the playoffs, he's been to the World Series a few times," Revere said. "From what I heard and just being a part of spring, I definitely believe he's one of the top managers. He is the top manager in the game of baseball today."
Most would argue Bruce Bochy as the best manager in MLB. But, interestingly enough, Baker was named the second-most accomplished manager recently by Baseball America. He outranked several who have won World Series titles including Mike Scioscia and Terry Francona, who has two rings.
Baker doesn't have a ring as a manager, but Revere wants to help him get one.
"Definitely for me, I'm trying to get a championship. I'd like to see Obama before he heads out. That's my main goal," Revere said.