The Kansas City Royals have started the season at a mediocre 11-11. There is no need to panic but at the same time it may not be something to be overly excited about. However, the starting rotation has been a team strength and many of the young players on the team are beginning to play better as well. Although there are many bright spots on the roster and many reasons to be optimistic about this season, there is one huge weakness to the team’s roster and that is designated hitter Billy Butler.
Lack of production
Billy Butler is solely a hitter. Once Eric Hosmer made it to the big leagues, Butler became purely a designated hitter. Although I will admit he was becoming better in the field before Hosmer joined the club, Billy Butler has become a one tool player. Butler had a lot of great potential when he was drafted by the organization and the team has seen glimpses of it, but none of it sustained.
Since 2007 Butler’s season batting averages have been .292, .275, .301, .318, .291, .313, .289, and currently through 22 games this season sits at .207. Although not terrible, the power numbers have never really accompanied the solid averages. Butler has 21 homeruns in 2009, 29 homeruns in his All-Star campaign in 2012, and finished the season with 15 last year. It’s almost May and Butler has yet to record his first dinger of the season.
As a team’s power hitter, it is difficult to be content and say that things will turn around and not to worry about his production. Butler is a veteran player that is currently in his eighth season with the club dating back to 2007. I can’t imagine a scenario where the Royals would resign Butler at the end of his contract if his production does not significantly increase. Butler seems like nice enough of a guy, but take the emotion out of it, and Butler has been nothing but a letdown in the middle of the lineup so far this season and last.
Billy Butler has been a very solid doubles hitter in his career. His career high in 2009 was 51, but once again production has slipped and last year finished with only 27. Along with all of the doubles, double plays have been a characteristic of Billy’s game as well, which have been a huge rally killer.
Do I think Billy Butler is worthless to the Royals? Absolutely not. Butler could be a huge part of the Royals future success. He has shown that he can be the hitter that the organization hopes it would be, but for the majority of the team that player is not present. At least until Butler’s contract is up, he will be a Royal. I can’t imagine too many teams would give up any great prospects for a designated hitter with a lack of power currently who does not play defense at all. Butler most likely will spend his entire career in the American League, so that also limits possible trades.
With the Royals not having any immediate solution, whether possible trade partners or minor league prospects, the solution may be to keep riding the Billy Train and hope eventually that he comes the designated hitter the team can rely on now and for years to come.
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