Billy Butler Makes FanSided All-AL Central Team

I mentioned the ambitious project we’re working on throughout the entire FanSided network last week – crafting an All-Star team for each division in baseball, as determined by FanSided baseball writers.

After multiple points, counterpoints, and a productive discussion about the merits of the players within our division, the Royals landed Billy Butler at the DH spot over strong cases for Chicago’s Adam Dunn and Detroit’s Victor Martinez.  Perhaps it’s a biased decision on my part, but Butler got my vote because he’s been within the same levels of production as Dunn and Martinez, but as a 24-year-old (25 in April), he’s only going to improve, while Dunn and Martinez, going into 2011, have a greater chance of collapse.

My view on creating a roster took into account a player’s age, similar to how Baseball Prospectus will include collapse, attrition and breakout percentages when profiling players.  To me, a player past 30 years old has an increased possibility of collapse.  In Dunn’s case, he struck out a career high 199 times in 2010 – 30.7% of his plate appearances ended with a strikeout.  His walkrate remained above average, but was well below his career average.  His prolific power has remained mostly steady, but after four 40 homer seasons, he’s hit 38 in the last two seasons.  It’s a small drop, but still a drop.  Add to his case that he’ll be in the American League for the first time ever, and it increases his odds of fading out.

Martinez was a solid offensive force as a catcher for the Indians and Red Sox.  As a DH, he’s still very good, but not nearly as strong relative to his positional peers.  He had a lower OPS than Butler and Dunn and his 2008 loomed in my mind as what we might see if he were to see a sharp drop in production.

All Butler’s done is lead the majors in doubles over the last two seasons (96) while finishing 18th in base hits in 2009 and 5th in 2010.  He struck out half as frequently as Dunn in 2010 and has a career 13.4% strikeout rate.  Meanwhile, he’s increased his walkrate every year he’s been in the majors.  The home run power hasn’t always been there, but he’s not embarrassing himself either – and the doubles show that he’s capable of drilling the ball even if it doesn’t go over the fence.  Entering 2011, he could be on the verge of a power breakout after two successful full seasons in the big leagues.

I’ll unveil the entire offensive roster early next week.

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Tags: Adam Dunn AL Central Baseball Billy Butler Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals Victor Martinez

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