Last week, news broke that the Kansas City Royals were going to begin trade talks with teams regarding DH Billy Butler. All I could think of when I first heard the news was that it’s about time.
Billy Butler has been nothing but a lot of potential that has never produced. Being drafted out of high school, Butler was everything Kansas City fans were looking for, something that the Royals hadn’t seen since the 80s: strength and power.
It seems almost like a lifetime ago now when Butler was first drafted and took batting practice at Kauffmann Stadium and hit a ball to the Jackie Robinson memorial which used to be in left center field. Since then, Butler and the Royals have been a perfect fit: a disappointment. If this past year was an indication of how the Royals will play next year, then it’s time to move on from Billy Butler.
What Billy is
Billy Butler seems to be a prey nice guy, is a creator of his own barbeque sauce, a fan favorite in Kansas City, and probably the slowest player in Major League Baseball.
It is pretty difficult to determine Billy’s incredibly slow speed, because I think maybe twice in his career has he ever tried to run hard to first or beat out an infield hit. One thing Billy Butler is good for are doubles. He is also very good at grounding in double plays; in fact, he is pretty incredible at that. Billy Butler is: “Country Breakfast.”
What Billy is not
Billy Butler is not the cornerstone of a franchise. The Royals said before last season that he had gained a lot of muscle, but whether he did or not, it did not have a lasting effect on his performance.
In 2012, he had a career year batting .313 with 29 home runs, 107 RBIs, a .510 slugging percentage, and a .373 on base percentage. In 2013, he batted .289 with 15 home runs, 82 RBIs, a .412 slugging percentage, and a .374 on base percentage.
Other than the 15 home runs, these are almost the exact statistics of Boston Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia. A designated hitter is paid to hit and to hit only. Butler does not have to worry about playing the field at all unless in a National League ballpark. No disrespect to Pedroia, but a DH needs to be hitting for more power than a second baseman. What Butler is not: a long-term solution for the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals are a year late to the party on the idea of trading Butler. Looking back now, Butler would have been a much better departure to the Tampa Bay Rays than prospect Wil Myers. Butler had his best season by far in 2012 and I suppose the Royals were hoping it was a sign of things to come. His trade value was much higher last year than it is now and the Royals would be lucky to hopefully get two solid arms for him or possibly a second baseman for the future they want and can rely on.
I have nothing against Billy Butler personally. Like I said, I am sure he is a very nice guy and a wonderful human being. I had high hopes for him when he was drafted and couldn’t wait for him to make the big league squad. Lately, however, I fear we have seen the best of him and he will never quite reach the potential he once had.
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