Sep 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) hits a two run RBI double against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Accepting Billy Butler for What He Is

Sep 13, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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  • Christian camlin

    Well said but you have missed 1 important point.Teams that win build for their stadium.If we played in a cookie cutter stadium like say Comiskey that would not matter.But royals stadium is one of several large pitchers park type stadiums in the AL.Seattle,Detroit,Oakland, California & of course the K all come to mind as parks that are hard to hit homers in.For this reason you want guys who are fast and have excellent bat control.billy has nice bat control but pulls the ball a lot.If Billy played in Texas,Boston ,New York or Baltimore he would be a home run hitter instead of a long fly hitter.His average and RBI numbers would be more elsewhere.But he is still a very good player even n the wrong stadium for his talents.If we move him we need to get a major star or 3 top level prospects.But no one offering.So we keep him and let him do his best while he is here.

    • Dave Hill

      Exactly Christian. I wouldn’t expect him to hit 30 every year, but 25 to 30 home runs would probably be likely.

  • jessanders

    Couldn’t say it better. Is it frustrating when he hits into a double play? Yeah.. But it’s always frustrating when anyone does. He makes up for it by hitting more often than other players…

    I love Butler, I just hope he isn’t the best hitter on the team this year…

  • JBL918

    So, here’s the thing–Billy Butler’s salary is the 3rd highest on the team, and has been among the highest for a number of years now. He is paid millions of dollars to do ONE thing: hit the ball consistently. Not to hit home runs or provide “power,” but to hit the ball CONSISTENTLY. I realize this is much easier said than done, and that based on his numbers, Butler is still an above average hitter. That’s NOT good enough.

    Billy is paid more, and asked to do less, than virtually any other player in the league. Everyone is expected to hit the ball. In the NL, even the pitchers are expected to hit. Unlike Billy, though, they’re also expected to throw, catch, field, run, hit the cutoff man, steal bases, etc. Billy doesn’t have to worry about any of that. Above average?? His numbers should be among the BEST in the league, every year.

    Last year, Butler led the majors by grounding into 28 double plays. He did it twice today, once with a runner on each corner. Had he gotten a single, or a sacrifice fly, then Gordon’s 9th inning RBI would have been a game winner, not just a means of delaying our inevitable defeat.

    Do I expect him to be perfect? Of course not, all designated hitters are prone to occasional strike outs and GIDPs. With Butler, it no longer feels occasional, and that’s a problem. Look at it this way: last year, Billy took up 9.53% of the teams overall payroll, while contributing 5.39% to their on-field performance. That’s called underperforming, no matter how you spin it.

  • Johnny

    Sorry David, I think you’re missing the point…and I will not accept Billy Butler for who he is. But I appreciate your love of the game and your love for the Royals! And sure Billy was great in 2012! However, to pay a guy 8.5 million to be a full time DH, and for him to put up the numbers he did last year, is completely unacceptable. Most teams have moved away from a full time DH, with Boston being one of the only exceptions…and they have a valid reason in Ortiz. Did you notice the lack of interest from other teams when we put Billy on the trading block in November? That’s because they can find a slash of 15 hrs. with a .280s avg. for much cheaper than overpaying that chubby, pasty ball of goo who can’t even play the field. They can find those numbers in second basemen, and shortstops, and platoon outfielders for a quarter of the price or less. Butler has shown no indication this spring of turning his game back to what it once was. In fact, he had a lower OPS this spring than Johnny Giovatella, our minor league second baseman. Maybe I’m bothered by his alleged off the field behavior (see 96.5 the buzz/the selfie that went viral), but the guy is just a complete piece of shit.

  • John

    No discussion. Expect more double plays. He is what he is. Not great. At all.