It feels as though Billy Butler is taken for granted. A professional hitter who stings line drives all over the diamond, it seems as though people focus more on what Butler is not instead of what he is. Aside from his 2012 season when he hit 29 home runs, it seems as though people bemoan his lack of power as a way to justify that Butler is somehow less of a hitter than he really is.
After hitting his first home run of the spring Friday, it seemed as though there was a cry to action by the Butler Bashers of the world. Commentors on Facebook and Twitter used that home run as an opportunity to decry Butler’s lack of power and speed, claiming that someone that is ‘paid to hit’ should not be doing such things as hitting into double plays and should provide more power.
These people, and those who feel that Billy Butler has been a disappointment, are seemingly missing the point. Based on those people, one would think that Butler was hitting at a level so anemic that he had channeled Billy Bergen. Instead, Butler has a .339/.431/.484 batting line with four doubles and ten walks. Despite his lack of speed, Butler has even managed to leg out a triple.
We all know what Butler is not. He is not a power hitter. He is not going to suddenly hit 40 home runs. Butler needs to be timed down the first base line with a sundial. We get that. However, those flaws do not truly portray what Butler actually is.
Billy Butler is a professional hitter. He works the count, drawing walks and getting on base. A pure line drive hitter, Butler has ranked among the league leaders in doubles, RBIs and times on base. Over the past five seasons, Butler has produced a combined .302/.372/.469 batting line, which indicates that he is doing exactly what he is paid to do – hit the baseball.
Through most of the last five years, Butler has been the Royals best hitter. Even on a team with potential up and coming stars like Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez, Butler is still one of the better hitters on the roster. He produces year in and year out, giving the Royals quality plate appearances and providing a sense of professionalism on a young team. Butler is the type of veteran that the younger players can look up to.
It is far too easy to criticize Billy Butler for what he is not. Butler is likely never going to be a 30 home run a year hitter. Yet, what Butler is happens to be pretty good. Instead of lamenting what he is not, we should all learn to accept what Billy Butler is – a doubles machine who happens to be an excellent fit for the Royals lineup.