Let’s take a trip back in time, all the way back to the All-Star break last year. The night of the Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium, the fans loudly cheered for one of their own, Billy Butler. Robinson Cano was booed mercifully, and chants of Billy Butler echoed throughout the K because of Cano’s going back on his word about selecting Butler for the derby. The next night at the All-Star Game, Butler received a standing ovation during his introduction, and was wildly cheered every time he stepped up to the dish. For the longest time, Billy Butler has been a fan favorite in Kansas City, in fact he might even be up there as one of the most popular Royals of all time. But for whatever reason, there is a section of the Royals fanbase that has soured on Billy this year, and it is quite troubling. So what has Billy done to deserve this scorn from a number of Royals fans? I think I might just have the answer…
There could be a number of answers as to why Butler has taken some of the heat from the fans this year. The obvious answer off the top is he is not having the type of year he had in 2012. I had a feeling this would happen, as Billy had his best season last year and put up power numbers that he had never put up before. For years, people have felt like he should hit for more power, and last year they got it. Go ahead, it’s easy to compare the numbers. For a fan who just looks at the base numbers, Butler is under-producing and his numbers appear to be down. But if you take a closer look, a lot of the numbers are actually on par or even better than he has had in the past. His OBP is tied for his career high(heavily helped by his career high in walks. Yes, walks do matter!!), his OPS+ is the third highest of his career, and his total bases isn’t too far off from his career average. Now, with all that being said, this is a down year for Butler, and the numbers show that as well.
Obviously, with Butler’s power numbers down, his slugging percentage would take a hit. At this point, it would be his lowest since 2008. Butler’s RBI’s are down, but I wonder how much of that is based on a combination of him not seeing the same pitches he saw last year and the batters ahead of him not consistently getting on base. In fact, the hike in Billy’s walks have a direct correlation to him being pitched around. Butler has always had a great eye, and that has never been as evident as it has been this year. The other stat I’m sure the ‘fans with pitchforks’ will use is the one where Billy leads the league in grounding into double plays. This isn’t something new, as fans have always thrown out the fact that Butler grounds into double plays as a major flaw in his game. Sure, it’s not the best stat to lead the league in, but do you know who else is in the top 5? Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. Not a bad list, huh? Since we know Butler isn’t going to become a speedster anytime in the near future, I think at this point we should just accept the fact that Billy will be on this list in the future. You don’t have to like it, but it isn’t going anywhere,
I hate to even bring up the other thing that Butler catches flak for, but it’s true. The fact that Billy isn’t a lean-mean-home run hitting machine gets thrown around quite a bit over the years. I mean, there is a reason he got the nickname “Country Breakfast”. I’m not for sure why people are so worried about his weight and how that plays into things. I could see it if it affected his hitting, but like we’ve pointed out, it’s not like he is at Francoeur-levels. In fact, history has shown that heftier players seem to do fine. Anyone hear of that Babe Ruth guy? He’s just one of the greatest players in baseball history. Boog Powell was a little hefty, and he was a hell of a slugger. Prince Fielder seems to do fine. Bob Horner was quite the power hitter back in his day. Kirby Puckett? Hall of Famer. So history shows that some extra weight isn’t a detriment. But it does play into all of this.
Billy Butler’s weight I really feel is where some of the anger comes from. For one, it’s easier to pick on the fat kid. Don’t even act like that doesn’t happen, or you have never done it. Second, there is a belief that a guy his size should hit more home runs, or at least that is what most casual fans would tell you. The problem is that what makes Billy a better all around hitter is that he isn’t a power hitter. Billy’s career high in strikeouts was last year, which goes along with the increase in power. Now, I know in 2013 strikeouts aren’t frowned upon as much as they used to be, but they should be. I would take the guy who is a great hitter and doesn’t strike out much over the guy who hits a lot of home runs and strikes out all the time. I actually heard someone last week say they would rather have an Adam Dunn-type over Butler. Seriously? No way is Dunn or a Dunn-type player better than Billy. Ever. I’ve always felt Butler was more of a gap hitter, which holds up if you look at his doubles numbers over the years. Butler is more a John Kruk than a Boog Powell. Kruk was a great hitter, a career .300 hitter, and was a little overweight. He didn’t hit for much power though, and Billy is in that same category. In some ways, Butler will always catch crap from fans unless he goes out there and hits thirty homers every year. It’s not fair, and not the player he actually is, but it’s a fact of life.
So one last time, I want you to look at Billy’s numbers this year. I fully acknowledge that he isn’t putting up quite the numbers he had last year, but there is a good chance 2012 will end up being his career year. If you go up and down the Royals roster, I’m sure we can all find flaws in all of these guys. None of them are perfect. But there are certain flaws you can live with, and others that end up costing a player his job. Billy has done nothing but hit over his seven year career, and his .295 average this year is just one telltale sign that he hasn’t having as bad a season as some think. Of all the players on this team, I’m pretty sure Butler should be one of the last ones we should be tearing down. The guy wants to end his career in Kansas City, although you wonder why with how some fans have been acting. At the end of the day, Billy Butler is not the problem with the Royals. Maybe he should be appreciated and lauded for being one of their best players instead of treated like he is Jeff Francoeur. Maybe some Royals fans should remember why they were cheering him like crazy just a little over a year ago.
The Royals need Butler to be a 110-130 RBI guy, especially if he is a base to base runner, offers no value in the field and continually leads the league in GDP’s. You can dig into the numbers all you want with Butler and he is always going to come out as an average to above average hitter. If you are going to be a DH full time in the bigs, you better be a run scorer or a big rbi guy and right now Butler is neither. If you look at the Royals most recent swoon, Butler was a virtual non-factor in the losses and not much more of a factor in the wins. He is a singles guy with gap power at best and he hits best when no one is on base (11 of his 13 homers have been solo and 5 of his homers have come when the R’s already have the lead). And what is worse, is when he gets on base, it takes 3 hits to score him (maybe why he has so many walks?).
1) I fully think Butler is capable of driving in over 110 RBI’s every year…but the players ahead of him have to get on base for that to happen. That hasn’t been happening much over the years.
2) I think you would find that 3/4 of hitters are better hitters when runners aren’t on base Just a hunch.
3) So you will jump on the Francoeur bus that he clogs the bases? Please. If he has someone to drive in, and does it, I have no problem with him “clogging the bases”. This whole team is pretty stationary.
4) Butler would fit in better with a lineup that had a couple of power guys, but KC doesn’t have that. He is their best option. You can trade him, but then who are you going to get that will be as consistent as he has been over his career?
I don’t want you think that I think Butler isn’t a good hitter, because statistically he has average to better than average numbers. He just isn’t the hitter the Royals need in my opinion. Billy gets a lot of pitches to hit when no one is on base because he isn’t a home run threat and teams aren’t scared of him getting on base. And when he his with runners on he is hitting into double plays at a very high rate and in bad situations. Think about where the R’s season might be if he wouldn’t have hit into a double play late in the game the Tigers won on the Cabrerra walk-off? They win the series and maybe are on another roll right now? He is a good hitter when the the stakes are low.
Adam Dunn is a big lumbering type guy. He is going to strike out a lot, but also has the potential to hit 50 jacks in a good year or 30+ in a average year.
Bulter can’t play in the field, can’t run, can’t hit for exceptional power consistently and has only in one season driven in more than 100 runs. The only category he is in the top 30 in the ML in is walks. And he has never consistently done that. And at the risk of being redundant, a walk to him isn’t like a walk Hosmer or Moose, guys that aren’t runners but are going to bog down the basepaths either.
I think the bigger problem is that Butler doesn’t have much value to anyone else either. He is the best option the Royals have now, but I hope there is a genuine middle of the order type guy out there they can go find this off season.
I would agree that the Royals need more of a power bat and that Butler would fit in better to where he wouldn’t have to be depended on to be that guy. In a perfect world, the Royals pick up a big bat for RF in the offseason, take some of the pressure off him, and let him just be Billy. I’m not so sure that is going to happen.
I don’t quite agree on him not being clutch. You follow Mellinger on twitter, so I’m sure you saw Butler’s #’s in pressure situations and with runners in scoring position. I will say I think he hasn’t quite been as much this season, and I don’t know if that is frustration from not getting better pitches or what it is.
I would always pick a guy like Butler over someone like Dunn. Dunn barely hits .200 most seasons. It might just be a preference, but I can’t stand hitters who strike out that much and don’t hit. He might homer, but the other 4 at bats end up being easy outs. I’ll take the guy who gets on base 3 out of 10 times.
I did see Mellinger’s numbers, but I don’t like how the “late and close” numbers are figured personally. To me it should be based on late and behind. Hitting with true pressure. In the last 10-15 games where Billy’s numbers look real impressive, he really hasn’t had a positive effect in a pressure situation. Like coming through down one with a runner on 2nd and 2 outs. He doesn’t handle that situation at all. It is way easier to hit with a runner on 2nd and 2 outs when your team is up 1 rather than down 1. Go back and look at the box scores and play-by-plays from the Detroit 5 game series on. Look at it situation by situation and you will see he had opportunities to drive guys in from 2nd and from 1st base (by the way, a true middle guy should be feared to drive guys in even from 1st base).
I don’t like Dunn a lot either, but if you insert him in the line up in Butler’s place in all of the same situations the Royals would be better in my opinion because Dunn is a threat hit it deep. And, even though Dunn would strike out a lot more, he would hit into fewer double plays. The GDP’s are a big deal to me. Guys like Kirby Puckett used to hit into a lot of DP’s, however, Kirby hit .320, played the field, but more importantly, was a clutch guy.
Butler is the best the Royals have right now. No arguing that. He just isn’t anywhere near what they need him to be, unless he starts hitting 30 jacks a year and driving in 100+ runs.
But, do go back and look game by game. I can’t remember the last time Billy drove in the tying run or go ahead run.
I argued with another guy on Twitter about hitting when it matters and he said that 29 of his 66 RBI’s have come in innings 1-3. Well, baseball games are won in the 7-9, not 1-3. If they were won in the 1-3 the R’s should start Holland every night!
Also, everyone apologizing for Butler wants to use stats to back up all of his performances. But, doesn’t the team have to have some sort of offensive approach to go hand in hand with that argument? I agree with you that walks are very important. Billy apparently does too. But, do the R’s as an organization? They appear to me to be a club with no real identifiable approach at the plate. Teams that adhere to sabremetrics as there guide to who they put on the field have to have the same approach night in and night out don’t they? The Royals clearly don’t. Maybe that is a managerial problem? (did you see that? I just baited you! Lol)
WIll go back and look at the box scores. and I do think there is some fear with pitching to Butler, as he has been pitched around for most of the year, especially early in the year.
By no means am I saying the GIDP are good…they aren’t. Maybe do a few more hit and runs with Billy up and see if that helps any? Just a thought.
But runs early on do help a pitching when it comes to how relaxed he is. The 7-9 innings are very important, but there is value in driving in runs early on. As someone who has watched a lot of Royals baseball, you should realize what pitching from behind can do. lol
lmao. First, I just laughed really hard about the bait. Well done, sir! Second, it is readily apparent that the Royals don;t adhere to one solid philosophy. They did when Seitzer was the hitting coach. In fact, Rany made the case recently that a lot of the Royals hitting woes this season stem from the firing of Seitz:
I don’t know if I 100%, but the case could be made that firing Seitzer has lead to a lot of these problems. If it was Yost’s edict to not follow that philosophy and instead incorporate whatever they are trying to do now, then yes, it is a managerial problem. From my understanding, it was Yost’s decision to fire Seitzer. Seitzer has mentioned in interviews that Yost felt like all these guys could hit 20-30 home runs a year. It’s also been mentioned that Butler has been in fairly regular contact with Seitzer, so he might have relied on him more than any of us thought. I don’t think I would fault Billy for actually valuing walks, as they are just as good as a hit, plus forces the pitcher to throw more pitches and get his pitch count up. That’s a big part of why those Red Sox/Yankees games are so long. The Royals, as a whole, should put more value into walks, which I would have to believe would help some of the problems this offense seems to have.