Don’t look now, but Billy Butler is finally starting to hit like the Billy Butler we had come to expect over the past few years.
When Eric Hosmer was placed on the disabled list, the Royals needed someone to step in and produce. Hosmer had been one of the Royals hottest hitters, and for a team that had struggled to find consistent offense, missing his production could have been a devastating blow. Fortunately, Butler has stepped up, both at the plate and on the field.
At first, Billy Butler has been relatively average, which given his reputation defensively, is a bonus for the Royals. Yet, it is with the bat that Butler has truly heated up. Entering last night’s game, Butler had produced a .400/.400/.714 batting line with three home runs over his last ten games. Those three home runs are half his season total. Perhaps there is something about playing first base for the Royals in July and August that helps hitters heat up.
Is it truly as simple as Butler being able to play first that is helping him hit? Butler has professed a preference to play first before, however the presence of the Gold Glove winning Hosmer has relegated Butler to duties as the Royals designated hitter. Maybe by playing in the field, Butler can keep himself from dwelling on any previous plate appearances, especially if they did not go well.
Baseball is a game that is perhaps more mentally demanding than any other sport. Virtually every day, for six consecutive months, baseball demands focus. It could be easy to get bogged down in the day to day, especially if a player is struggling like Billy Butler had been. Getting off the bench, and into the field, may have been the best thing to happen to Butler this season.
The Royals needed someone to step up with Eric Hosmer being injured. Billy Butler has certainly done so, both on the field and at the plate.