Apr 11, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) hits a RBI fielders choice in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Time to Move Billy Butler Down in the Royals Lineup

Apr 2, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s four run outburst not withstanding, the Royals offense has struggled for most of this season. Let us face facts – 33 runs in 12 games is not conducive to winning baseball, unless a team is somehow running five Greg Maddux clones to the mound. Yet, despite their inability to score runs, the Royals are somehow close to .500 at 5-7 this season.

There is certainly a lot of blame to go around. Five players in the Royals starting lineup are hitting .250 or lower, with Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler both hitting under .150 thus far. While it was hoped that Moustakas would be able to channel his excellent Spring Training and actually be productive this season, Butler was practically considered a lock to produce. After all, over the past five seasons, Butler had produced an average batting line of .302/.372/.469. A professional hitter, Butler was expected to help drive the Royals offense this season.

Instead, Butler’s production has taken a nosedive. None of his six hits have gone for extra bases, and Butler has almost as many RBIs (four) and times that he has grounded into a double play (three) this season. In fact, Butler has hit the ball in the air all of four times this season, leading to a truly horrific ground ball rate. It is one thing to hit a high percentage of ground balls if you happen to be Nori Aoki or Jarrod Dyson, but it is something else entirely when one has the speed that Butler has.

Right now, with the Royals offense in a general slump, Billy Butler may be trying too hard to make things happen. Instead of waiting for his pitch and hitting it hard, Butler may be feeling pressure to deliver. When he doesn’t, he may be trying harder. If anything, the best thing for Butler may be to take a step back and relax, perhaps hitting a bit further down the lineup until he is back to his normal self.

Fortunately for the Royals, for as cold as Butler has been, they have someone that has been equally hot with the bat. Salvador Perez, despite batting directly in front of Moustakas, has been the Royals best hitter this season. Even with minimal protection, Perez still leads the American League in doubles, and is in the top ten in batting average, on base percentage and OPS+.

Having that type of production in the cleanup spot could not only jump start the Royals offense, but it could help to get Billy Butler going. Sliding Butler down in the lineup, as teams do when a player struggles, could relieve any pressure that he is putting on himself to produce in a lineup that has been struggling to put runs on the board. Then, perhaps Butler can get back to hitting line drives and being the type of hitter we saw over the previous five seasons, instead of a groundball machine that has been rolling over on pitches away and missing the pitches that he used to crush.

It is still early in the season, but it is time for Ned Yost and the Royals to do something about their lack of production. Moving Billy Butler down in the lineup, for at least a couple of games, may be the easiest option.

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  • jimfetterolf

    I might give Billy a few days off and use a platoon of Dyson and Maxwell at DH.

  • Pixel Pusher

    Yost and Moore are about to go down with the ship. It started when they decided a couple of years ago that they didn’t have enough “power” in the lineup and got rid of Seitzer as their hitting coach. Now we hear that the Royals aren’t a “power” hitting team – more contact/doubles types yet BAs continue to drop and they can’t hit for power or average. That’s on Yost & Moore.

    I really want the Royals to succeed but I just haven’t seen enough over the last couple of years to convince me that they have enough to get over the hump and turn into a serious playoff team.

    The current organizational problem hasn’t been lack of talent. It’s been lack of production from the talent they have. Let’s hope they can recover and prove me wrong!

  • moretrouble

    I thought you were joking, David, until I read the article. No, I don’t think they’ll do that … and they shouldn’t.

    • Dave Hill

      I don’t think they will either, but I think it’s worth discussing. Butler looks like he needs a mental break, and short of giving him a day or two off, that may be the best way to do it. He really seems like he is pressing to me.

      • moretrouble

        I was telling Cardsfan on another article here the other day — I don’t think Butler has been right since Seitzer left. This offense would be a heck of a lot better if Seitzer were still around, in my opinion. Billy is a talented hitter, though — he knows the league and he’ll figure out something.

        • Dave Hill

          Exactly. Of all the hitters that are struggling right now, Butler is the one I’m least concerned with. I just think he needs a couple of days hitting without any pressure to get back to himself.

          As the veteran presence in the lineup, I truly think that he is putting a lot of pressure on himself to produce. Moving him down the batting order to alleviate that, at least to a degree.

          • moretrouble

            You’re right about that — the pressure to produce. I think he feels it. He can’t feel good about rolling over into DP’s a lot. But, KC is not in a great deal of trouble here, though. Yeah, they could play better, but I don’t think wholesale changes need to be made — and I don’t think they’ll make any. The Twins played very well in that series — people shouldn’t overlook that. Hey, give the other guys some credit once in awhile. They smoked KC.

        • cardsfanatik

          I competely agree more, BB is to professional of a hitter to keep slumping like he is, Moose on the other hand, smh. And yes, Seitzer leaving had a much bigger impact than I think most realize.

  • goatlockerlifer

    When 4 runs is considered an outburst, some adjustments may be called for. But we all know Billy will pick it up, eventually.

    Moose, on the other hand, looks lost again.

  • cardsfanatik

    I don’t think Yostradumbass is smart enough to “shake” things up in the right way. If a guy looks like he’s pressing, do something to take off some pressure. Salvy can hit #4, no problem. Move BB to 5 or 6 for a game or two. Not forever, but just to jump start him. Billy Butler isn’t the ONLY problem, but just him hitting is not the ONLY answer either. This is the major leagues. Not the independent leagues, or the minor leagues. You have to have “solid” production in EVERY spot of your line up. They don’t all have to be super stars, but they should all be able to contribute in some way or another. So far, with the exception of 4 of the regular starters, this team has been a joke. To many holes in a professional line up to truly make a statement. Moose is not what he was hyped to be, face it. The experiment should be done. I don’t want anyone telling me that “he’s still young”, because I know he is. But he is FAR from being an unknown prospect. 1500 PA’s is MORE than enough to find out what you have, or in this case, what you don’t. Time to move on. Call up Cuthbert, move AG to 3rd, but do something, BEFORE WE ARE SO FAR OUT WE CAN’T CATCH UP!!! I know the players have to produce, but if the Royal’s finish in the cellar this year, its on noone BUT Yost and Moore. Its Yostradummies job to put the best product on the field, and so far, he hasn’t tried anything different. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, but expect different results. Welp, here we are. And if anyone’s excited about beating the Houston Astros……..well, I wouldn’t be if I were you. My 12 year old son plays on a team that could beat the Houston Astros, and the Kansas City Royal’s for that matter. Frankly, I’m tired of all the excuses, and I can’t hardly stand to listen to the damn commentators make some of the most bullshit excuses anymore. This team is young, they need to figure out how to win. But Yost is a failure, its his job to show them how to win, or to put them into the BEST position to win. I think BB will come out of his funk, but he may need a mental break. Moose isn’t in a “funk”, he just sucks. Escobar had a career year (2012), but his D is excellent, if his D falls of, I have no use for him either. Aoki and Infante will set the table, but when noone behind them produces, who gives a shit. Salvy batting in the bottom of the line up “right now” is just stupid. Go with who’s hot. And its not BB right now. I could go on and on, but it does no good.

    • moretrouble

      Be careful, Cardsfan … you’ll hurt Ned’s feelings. Humm … your 12U team could beat Houston and KC? What league do they play in …35U? Have a great day … enjoyed your post.

      • cardsfanatik

        :) I might be exaggerating just a bit More…….maybe. But its infuriating.

  • jimfetterolf

    Part of Billy’s problem is that Alex isn’t scaring anyone, so pitchers are willing to throw low and away all day, the hardest pitch to drive. Billy has a .081 isoOB a good number, just getting nothing to hit.

  • kcstengelSr

    I would seriously consider the possibility that Billy Butler is injured. He complained of a neck issue late last July, but it was all so mysterious. Since around that time, Billy has managed 7 doubles in 283 at bats.
    Billy hurt could explain some things.
    Instead of Billy to 6th in the order, how about Butler to the Mayo Clinic?

  • moretrouble

    You were right, Dave. They’re moving Butler down. Nice prediction …

    • Dave Hill

      Every so often, I stumble upon one.