1B-Billy Butler, DH-Mike Jacobs
By Wally Fish
A while back I wrote, in passing, that Billy Butler should be the starter at 1B and Mike Jacobs should be the starter at DH. My statement was based on their defensive ability more than anything else, but I decided to take a look at their offensive numbers as well. I found their splits to be surprising and more pronounced than I expected and thought I would share them.
The Royals have now played 23 games this season. Both Butler and Jacobs have had only 3 games where they weren’t in the starting lineup, meaning that each has 20 starts under their belt. Of his 20 starts, Butler has 15 at 1B and 5 at DH. Jacobs has 8 at 1B and 12 at DH. As an aside, the Royals are 2-1 in games Mike Jacobs isn’t in the lineup, and 1-2 when Butler isn’t starting.
When Billy Butler is starting at 1B the Royals are 10-5 and he is hitting 0.294 (15/51).
When Mike Jacobs is starting at 1B the Royals are 2-6 and he is hitting 0.179 (5/28).
When Billy Butler is starting at DH the Royals are 1-4 while he is hitting 0.111 (2/18).
When Mike Jacobs is starting at DH the Royals are 8-4 while he is hitting 0.239 (11/46).
Since Butler has started at 1B 75% of the games and has only started at DH one time since game 7 it is clear that the Royals are aware of these splits. At the very least Trey Hillman is aware that Mike Jacobs’ leaden glove has cost the Royals 2 games already this year. The Royals are fortunate that Butler hits better when playing 1B and Jacobs hits better when he is the DH, because that arrangement optimizes their defensive abilities as well.
Butler may not look polished or smooth at the position yet, but he has only been at the position for about 1 year and is learning at the ML level Sweeney style. Like Butler, Jacobs was not drafted as a 1B, but after a couple of minor league seasons as a catcher, Jacobs has spent 5 years at 1B in the majors and parts of several seasons in the minors. The fact that Butler is already better at the position defensively should set this arrangement in stone.