Billy's Streak - Does It Matter?

In the first series of 2009, Billy Butler went 0-11 against the White Sox.

In the next series, he got one hit in six at bats against the Yankees.  And since, he’s gotten a hit in every single series that the Royals have completed (he was 0-4 in last night’s series opener against the White Sox).

The Royals have made a big deal out if this, as he’s tied the team record for hits in consecutive series.  I’m not so sure it’s really an accomplishment.  What I mean by that is, that yes, Butler getting hits consistently is a good thing.  That he doesn’t go more than four days without a hit is a positive thing, but does it really say much about him as a hitter, or is it just a fun stat to cook up and talk about?

Well, they cooked it up, so now I’ll talk about it.

First, let’s look at some game logs for the past two seasons:

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
1 Apr 7 KCR @ CHW L,2-4 4 4 0
2 Apr 8 KCR @ CHW W,2-0 4 4 0
3 Apr 9 KCR @ CHW W,2-1 3 3 0
4 Apr 10 KCR NYY L,1-4 3 2 1
5 Apr 11 KCR NYY L,1-6 4 4 0
6 Apr 12 KCR NYY W,6-4 1 0 0
7 Apr 13 KCR CLE W,4-2 4 4 1
8 Apr 14 KCR CLE W,9-3 4 3 2
9 Apr 15 KCR CLE L,4-5 2 2 0
10 Apr 17 KCR @ TEX W,12-3 6 5 2
11 Apr 18 KCR @ TEX W,2-0 4 3 1
12 Apr 19 KCR @ TEX L,5-6 4 4 1
13 Apr 21 KCR @ CLE L,7-8 5 3 1
14 Apr 22 KCR @ CLE W,2-0 4 3 1
15 Apr 23 KCR @ CLE L,2-5 4 3 0
16 Apr 24 KCR DET W,6-1 4 3 1
17 Apr 25 KCR DET L,1-9 4 4 0
18 Apr 27 KCR TOR W,7-1 4 3 0
19 Apr 29 KCR TOR W,11-3 5 5 4
20 Apr 30 KCR TOR W,8-6 4 3 2
May Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
21 May 1 KCR @ MIN L,5-7 4 4 0
22 May 2 KCR @ MIN W,10-7 6 6 1
23 May 3 KCR @ MIN W,7-5 0 0 0
24 May 4 KCR CHW W,3-0 4 4 1
25 May 5 KCR CHW W,8-7 4 4 2
26 May 6 KCR SEA W,9-1 5 4 3
27 May 7 KCR SEA W,3-1 4 4 2
28 May 8 KCR @ LAA L,1-4 4 4 2
29 May 9 KCR @ LAA L,0-1 4 3 0
30 May 10 KCR @ LAA L,3-4 4 4 1
31 May 12 KCR @ OAK L,3-12 4 3 0
32 May 13 KCR @ OAK L,2-7 4 3 1
33 May 14 KCR BAL L,5-9 5 5 2
34 May 15 KCR BAL W,8-1 4 4 1
35 May 16 KCR BAL L,2-3 4 4 0
36 May 17 KCR BAL W,7-4 5 5 2
37 May 19 KCR CLE W,6-5 4 4 2
38 May 20 KCR CLE L,5-6 5 4 1
39 May 21 KCR CLE L,3-8 4 4 1
40 May 22 KCR @ STL L,0-5 1 1 0
41 May 23 KCR @ STL L,0-5 4 4 1
42 May 24 KCR @ STL W,3-2 4 4 2
43 May 25 KCR DET L,1-13 4 4 1
44 May 26 KCR DET W,6-1 4 4 1
45 May 27 KCR DET L,3-8 4 4 1
46 May 29 KCR CHW L,2-11 4 4 1
47 May 30 KCR CHW L,3-5 4 4 1
48 May 31 KCR CHW L,4-7 5 5 2
June Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
49 Jun 2 KCR @ TBR L,2-6 4 4 0
50 Jun 3 KCR @ TBR L,0-9 4 4 0
51 Jun 4 KCR @ TBR L,2-3 4 4 3
52 Jun 5 KCR @ TOR L,3-9 4 4 1
53 Jun 6 KCR @ TOR W,6-2 4 4 1
54 Jun 7 KCR @ TOR L,0-4 4 4 1
55 Jun 9 KCR @ CLE L,4-8 5 5 1
56 Jun 10 KCR @ CLE W,9-0 5 5 1
57 Jun 11 KCR @ CLE L,3-4 5 4 2
58 Jun 12 KCR CIN W,4-1 4 4 1
59 Jun 13 KCR CIN W,7-4 5 5 3
60 Jun 14 KCR CIN W,7-1 4 4 0
61 Jun 16 KCR ARI W,5-0 4 2 1
62 Jun 17 KCR ARI L,5-12 5 4 2
63 Jun 18 KCR ARI L,5-12 4 4 1
64 Jun 19 KCR STL L,5-10 4 4 1
65 Jun 20 KCR STL L,1-7 4 4 0
66 Jun 21 KCR STL L,5-12 4 4 2
67 Jun 23 KCR @ HOU W,2-1 4 4 2
68 Jun 24 KCR @ HOU W,4-3 6 5 0
69 Jun 25 KCR @ HOU L,4-5 1 1 0
70 Jun 26 KCR @ PIT L,3-5 4 3 1
71 Jun 27 KCR @ PIT L,2-6 4 4 2
72 Jun 28 KCR @ PIT W,3-2 1 1 0
73 Jun 29 KCR MIN W,4-2 5 5 2
74 Jun 30 KCR MIN L,1-2 4 4 0
July Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
75 Jul 1 KCR MIN L,1-5 4 4 4
76 Jul 2 KCR CHW L,1-4 4 4 0
77 Jul 3 KCR CHW L,0-5 4 4 1
78 Jul 4 KCR CHW W,6-4 4 3 0
79 Jul 5 KCR CHW W,6-3 5 4 2
80 Jul 6 KCR @ DET W,4-3 4 4 0
81 Jul 7 KCR @ DET L,5-8 5 5 2
82 Jul 8 KCR @ DET L,1-3 4 4 3
83 Jul 9 KCR @ BOS W,8-6 5 5 1
84 Jul 10 KCR @ BOS L,0-1 4 4 0
85 Jul 11 KCR @ BOS L,9-15 5 4 3
86 Jul 12 KCR @ BOS L,0-6 4 4 0
87 Jul 17 KCR TBR L,7-8 5 4 1
88 Jul 18 KCR TBR L,2-4 4 3 0
89 Jul 19 KCR TBR L,3-4 5 5 4
90 Jul 21 (1) KCR LAA L,5-8 5 4 1
91 Jul 21 (2) KCR LAA L,2-10 4 3 1
92 Jul 22 KCR LAA L,6-9 5 3 0
93 Jul 24 KCR TEX L,0-2 4 4 0
94 Jul 25 KCR TEX W,6-3 4 3 1
95 Jul 26 KCR TEX L,2-7 4 4 0
96 Jul 27 KCR @ BAL W,5-3 5 5 5
97 Jul 28 KCR @ BAL W,4-3 5 5 1
98 Jul 29 KCR @ BAL L,3-7 4 4 0
99 Jul 30 KCR @ BAL L,3-7 5 5 1
100 Jul 31 KCR @ TBR L,2-8 4 3 1
August Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
101 Aug 1 KCR @ TBR L,1-7 4 4 1
102 Aug 2 KCR @ TBR W,4-1 4 4 0
103 Aug 3 KCR @ TBR L,4-10 4 3 0
104 Aug 4 KCR SEA L,6-7 5 4 2
105 Aug 5 KCR SEA L,6-11 5 4 3
106 Aug 6 KCR SEA W,8-2 4 3 2
107 Aug 7 KCR OAK L,4-9 5 4 2
108 Aug 8 KCR OAK W,12-6 5 4 3
109 Aug 9 KCR OAK L,3-6 4 4 2
110 Aug 11 KCR @ MIN W,14-6 6 6 1
111 Aug 12 KCR @ MIN L,1-7 4 4 0
112 Aug 13 KCR @ MIN W,5-4 4 4 2
113 Aug 14 KCR @ DET L,0-1 4 3 0
114 Aug 15 KCR @ DET L,3-10 4 3 1
115 Aug 16 KCR @ DET W,3-2 5 5 1
116 Aug 17 KCR @ CHW L,7-8 5 5 2
117 Aug 18 KCR @ CHW W,5-4 5 5 3
118 Aug 19 KCR @ CHW L,2-4 4 4 0
119 Aug 21 KCR MIN L,4-5 5 5 2
120 Aug 22 KCR MIN L,7-8 5 5 1
121 Aug 23 KCR MIN L,3-10 4 4 2
122 Aug 24 KCR CLE L,6-10 4 4 0
123 Aug 25 KCR CLE W,6-2 4 4 0
124 Aug 26 KCR CLE L,2-4 4 4 3
125 Aug 27 KCR @ SEA W,8-4 4 4 1
126 Aug 28 KCR @ SEA L,3-6 4 4 0
127 Aug 29 KCR @ SEA L,4-8 4 4 1
128 Aug 30 KCR @ SEA W,3-0 4 4 1
129 Aug 31 KCR @ OAK L,5-8 4 2 0
September/October Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
130 Sep 1 KCR @ OAK W,4-3 4 2 1
131 Sep 4 KCR LAA L,1-2 4 4 0
132 Sep 5 KCR LAA L,1-2 5 4 2
133 Sep 6 KCR LAA L,2-7 4 4 2
134 Sep 7 KCR LAA W,6-3 5 4 3
135 Sep 8 KCR DET W,7-5 4 3 2
136 Sep 9 KCR DET W,5-1 5 5 3
137 Sep 10 KCR DET W,7-4 5 5 2
138 Sep 11 KCR @ CLE W,2-1 5 5 1
139 Sep 12 KCR @ CLE L,6-13 5 4 1
140 Sep 13 KCR @ CLE W,7-0 5 5 1
141 Sep 15 KCR @ DET W,11-1 5 3 0
142 Sep 16 KCR @ DET L,3-4 4 4 0
143 Sep 17 KCR @ DET W,9-2 5 5 1
144 Sep 18 KCR @ CHW W,11-0 5 2 2
145 Sep 19 KCR @ CHW L,3-13 4 4 1
146 Sep 20 KCR @ CHW W,2-1 4 3 0
147 Sep 21 KCR BOS W,12-9 5 4 2
148 Sep 22 KCR BOS W,5-1 4 3 0
149 Sep 23 KCR BOS L,2-9 5 5 2
150 Sep 24 KCR BOS L,3-10 4 3 2
151 Sep 25 KCR MIN L,4-9 5 5 4
152 Sep 26 KCR MIN L,6-11 4 4 1
153 Sep 27 KCR MIN W,4-1 4 2 0
154 Sep 28 KCR @ NYY L,2-8 4 3 1
155 Sep 29 KCR @ NYY L,3-4 4 4 1
156 Sep 30 KCR @ NYY W,4-3 5 3 2
157 Oct 2 KCR @ MIN L,7-10 5 5 1
158 Oct 3 KCR @ MIN L,4-5 4 4 0
159 Oct 4 KCR @ MIN L,4-13 4 4 0
KCR 672 608 183
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/11/2010.
Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
1 Apr 5 KCR DET L,4-8 4 4 1
2 Apr 7 KCR DET W,3-2 5 5 1
3 Apr 8 KCR DET L,3-7 4 2 1
4 Apr 9 KCR BOS W,4-3 4 4 1
5 Apr 10 KCR BOS L,3-8 4 3 0
6 Apr 11 KCR BOS L,6-8 4 4 2
7 Apr 12 KCR @ DET W,10-5 5 5 2
8 Apr 13 KCR @ DET L,5-6 5 4 2
9 Apr 14 KCR @ DET W,7-3 5 3 1
10 Apr 16 KCR @ MIN L,3-10 4 4 1
11 Apr 17 KCR @ MIN L,5-6 4 4 0
12 Apr 18 KCR @ MIN W,10-5 5 5 3
13 Apr 19 KCR @ TOR L,1-8 4 4 0
14 Apr 20 KCR @ TOR L,3-4 5 5 1
15 Apr 21 KCR @ TOR W,4-3 4 4 2
16 Apr 23 KCR MIN L,3-8 4 4 0
17 Apr 24 KCR MIN L,7-9 6 6 4
18 Apr 25 KCR MIN W,4-3 4 4 1
19 Apr 26 KCR SEA W,3-1 4 4 2
20 Apr 27 KCR SEA L,2-3 4 3 2
21 Apr 28 KCR SEA L,5-6 4 3 0
22 Apr 29 KCR @ TBR L,1-11 4 4 1
23 Apr 30 KCR @ TBR W,3-2 4 4 2
May Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
24 May 1 KCR @ TBR W,4-2 4 4 2
25 May 2 KCR @ TBR L,0-1 4 4 0
26 May 3 KCR @ CHW L,1-5 4 4 1
27 May 4 KCR @ CHW W,7-2 5 5 2
28 May 5 KCR @ CHW L,2-9 4 4 2
29 May 6 KCR @ TEX L,12-13 5 4 2
30 May 7 KCR @ TEX L,1-4 4 3 1
31 May 8 KCR @ TEX L,2-3 4 3 2
32 May 9 KCR @ TEX L,4-6 4 3 0
33 May 11 KCR CLE L,2-8 4 4 1
34 May 12 KCR CLE L,0-4 5 4 1
35 May 13 KCR CLE W,6-4 4 4 1
36 May 14 KCR CHW W,6-1 4 4 1
37 May 15 KCR CHW L,4-5 4 3 2
38 May 16 KCR CHW W,5-3 4 3 2
39 May 17 KCR @ BAL W,4-3 4 4 2
40 May 18 KCR @ BAL L,3-4 5 4 0
41 May 19 KCR @ CLE W,8-4 5 4 1
42 May 20 KCR @ CLE W,9-3 4 3 2
43 May 21 KCR COL W,9-2 4 4 1
44 May 22 KCR COL L,0-3 4 4 0
45 May 23 KCR COL L,7-11 5 5 4
46 May 25 KCR TEX L,7-8 5 4 2
47 May 26 KCR TEX W,5-2 4 4 2
48 May 27 KCR @ BOS W,4-3 5 3 1
49 May 28 KCR @ BOS W,12-5 6 5 2
50 May 29 KCR @ BOS L,0-1 4 3 0
51 May 30 KCR @ BOS L,1-8 4 3 2
52 May 31 KCR LAA L,1-7 4 4 0
June Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
53 Jun 1 KCR LAA W,6-3 4 3 0
54 Jun 2 KCR LAA L,2-7 4 4 1
55 Jun 3 KCR LAA L,4-5 4 4 0
56 Jun 4 KCR DET W,7-3 4 4 2
57 Jun 5 KCR DET L,2-4 4 3 1
58 Jun 6 KCR DET W,7-2 4 4 1
59 Jun 8 KCR @ MIN L,3-7 4 4 0
60 Jun 9 KCR @ MIN L,2-6 4 4 1
61 Jun 11 KCR @ CIN W,6-5 5 3 0
62 Jun 12 KCR @ CIN L,5-11 5 5 3
63 Jun 13 KCR @ CIN W,7-3 5 5 4
64 Jun 15 KCR HOU W,15-7 5 4 3
65 Jun 16 KCR HOU L,2-4 4 4 0
66 Jun 17 KCR HOU W,5-2 4 4 2
67 Jun 18 KCR @ ATL L,4-6 4 3 1
68 Jun 19 KCR @ ATL L,4-5 4 4 0
69 Jun 20 KCR @ ATL L,5-8 5 5 1
70 Jun 21 KCR @ WSN L,1-2 4 4 1
71 Jun 22 KCR @ WSN L,3-4 4 4 0
72 Jun 23 KCR @ WSN W,1-0 4 4 1
73 Jun 25 KCR STL W,4-2 4 4 1
74 Jun 26 KCR STL L,3-5 4 4 1
75 Jun 27 KCR STL W,10-3 5 4 0
76 Jun 28 KCR CHW W,3-1 4 4 2
77 Jun 29 KCR CHW L,3-4 4 4 1
78 Jun 30 KCR CHW W,7-6 5 3 2
July Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
79 Jul 2 KCR @ LAA W,2-1 4 2 0
80 Jul 3 KCR @ LAA W,4-2 4 0 0
81 Jul 4 KCR @ LAA L,0-11 4 3 1
82 Jul 5 KCR @ SEA W,6-4 5 3 1
83 Jul 6 KCR @ SEA W,3-2 4 3 2
84 Jul 7 KCR @ SEA W,7-3 5 3 2
85 Jul 9 KCR @ CHW L,2-8 4 3 0
86 Jul 10 KCR @ CHW L,1-5 4 4 0
87 Jul 11 KCR @ CHW L,5-15 4 4 2
88 Jul 16 KCR OAK L,1-5 4 4 1
89 Jul 17 KCR OAK L,5-6 4 3 0
90 Jul 18 KCR OAK L,6-9 5 5 1
91 Jul 19 KCR TOR W,5-4 5 4 1
92 Jul 20 KCR TOR L,1-13 4 4 1
93 Jul 21 KCR TOR W,5-2 4 4 1
94 Jul 22 KCR @ NYY L,4-10 5 4 2
95 Jul 23 KCR @ NYY L,1-7 4 4 1
96 Jul 24 KCR @ NYY W,7-4 4 4 1
97 Jul 26 KCR MIN L,1-19 4 4 0
98 Jul 27 KCR MIN L,2-11 5 4 2
99 Jul 28 KCR MIN L,4-6 5 5 1
100 Jul 29 KCR BAL L,5-6 5 3 1
101 Jul 30 KCR BAL W,7-5 5 3 1
102 Jul 31 KCR BAL W,4-3 4 4 1
August Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
103 Aug 1 KCR BAL W,5-4 4 4 1
104 Aug 2 KCR @ OAK L,0-6 3 2 0
105 Aug 3 KCR @ OAK W,3-2 4 3 1
106 Aug 4 KCR @ OAK L,3-4 4 3 0
107 Aug 6 KCR @ SEA L,1-7 4 4 1
108 Aug 7 KCR @ SEA W,2-1 4 4 1
109 Aug 8 KCR @ SEA L,2-3 4 3 2
110 Aug 9 KCR @ LAA L,4-6 4 4 2
111 Aug 10 KCR @ LAA L,1-3 4 4 1
112 Aug 11 KCR @ LAA L,1-2 5 5 1
113 Aug 12 KCR NYY L,3-4 4 3 0
114 Aug 13 KCR NYY W,4-3 4 3 2
115 Aug 14 KCR NYY L,3-8 4 4 1
116 Aug 15 KCR NYY W,1-0 3 3 1
117 Aug 17 KCR CLE W,2-1 4 3 1
118 Aug 18 KCR CLE W,9-7 4 3 1
119 Aug 19 KCR CLE L,3-7 5 3 2
120 Aug 21 (1) KCR CHW W,6-5 5 4 0
121 Aug 21 (2) KCR CHW L,6-7 4 4 1
122 Aug 22 KCR CHW W,3-2 4 4 1
123 Aug 23 KCR @ DET L,3-12 4 4 2
124 Aug 24 KCR @ DET L,1-9 4 4 1
125 Aug 25 KCR @ DET W,4-3 5 5 1
126 Aug 28 KCR @ CLE L,3-4 1 1 0
127 Aug 29 KCR @ CLE W,6-2 5 5 2
128 Aug 30 KCR TEX L,0-3 4 3 1
129 Aug 31 KCR TEX W,10-9 5 5 2
September Tm Opp Rslt PA AB H
130 Sep 1 KCR TEX L,3-4 5 2 0
131 Sep 3 KCR DET L,5-9 5 5 2
132 Sep 4 KCR DET L,4-6 4 4 3
133 Sep 5 KCR DET W,2-1 4 4 2
134 Sep 6 KCR @ MIN L,4-5 4 4 1
135 Sep 7 KCR @ MIN L,3-10 1 1 0
136 Sep 10 KCR @ CHW L,3-4 4 4 0
KCR 578 509 158
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/11/2010.

One reason why I’m skeptical of proclaiming anything from some kind of streak like this is that “getting a hit in a series” can mean getting one hit or seven hits, so it’s not very precise in what it says.  Joe DiMaggio got a base hit in 56 straight games in 1941, and that record is unlikely to ever fall.  But let’s say a genie offered you a chance to play a full season of 162 games and that you’d get one base hit in every single one.  Would that make you a great hitter?  Consistent, yes, but if it’s only one hit a game, in four at bats per game, you’re only hitting .250 on the year (and who knows if you ever take a walk).  Baseball historians would say your streak was great…BUT.  For the record, DiMaggio hit .357 in 1941, so he was assuredly getting more than a hit a game in his streak.

In Butler’s case, if he got only one hit in a series over two years, that’d be around 100 hits.  Total.  The streak would still exist, but it wouldn’t mean he was all that good, just that he got a hit in every series.

So here’s my crude way of looking at this series streak.  Butler has 1250 plate appearances over the life of the streak.  And let’s include the 0-fer at Chicago last year for 97 total series.  That works out to 12.89 plate appearances per series.  He has 341 hits in the last two years, or 3.5 per series.

That set my paramaters of an average series for Billy Butler at 13 plate appearances and 3.5 base hits.  Considering that some series are only two games and some are four games (and that Butler won’t play in every game), it’s not perfect, but I think it’s enough to set those as benchmarks.  If Billy gets less than 3.5 hits in a series (which works out conveniently for an over/under), I’ll call it a weak series.  If he has more than 3.5 hits, I’ll call that a strong series.  For this streak the Royals keep mentioning to matter, I think Billy should have more strong series than weak.

Over the course of the last two seasons, Butler has gotten 13 plate appearances or more in 63 series.  He’s gotten four or more hits in 38 of those.  So 60% of the time, he has what I would arbitrarily call a “strong series”.  If you give him some leeway for not being able to get half of a hit and lower that standard to three hits in a series, he’s done that in 70 of 97 series overall.

And in 2010, he got at least three hits in every series, regardless of how often he came to the plate, in 16 of the first 17 series.

How about the frequency in which Butler has gotten a lone cheap hit in a series to keep the streak going?  He’s done that 12 times, though only four have happened this year.  And only three of those series have seen him go to the plate 13 times or more.

In other words, okay, it does show something.  Butler hits a lot and is consistent at doing so.  Considering he’s sitting on a .305 batting average combining the last two years, I’d say that’s pretty good.

It’s not a perfect measurement, of course, considering that any seeing eye single counts and again, someone could go 1-10 over the course of a million series and still only bat .100.  And since there are two and four game series among the typical three game tilts, the separation of a “series” is shaky and also arbitrary like the streak itself.

It seems Butler had that covered, as while he’s had seven instances where he’s gone two consecutive games without a hit, over the last two years, he’s never gone three without a hit (with the exception of the first series of 2009).

If nothing else is significant about the streak, that part, at least, should be.

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