Billy’s Streak – Does It Matter?


In the first series of 2009, Billy Butler went 0-11 against the White Sox.

In the next series, he got one hit in six at bats against the Yankees.  And since, he’s gotten a hit in every single series that the Royals have completed (he was 0-4 in last night’s series opener against the White Sox).

The Royals have made a big deal out if this, as he’s tied the team record for hits in consecutive series.  I’m not so sure it’s really an accomplishment.  What I mean by that is, that yes, Butler getting hits consistently is a good thing.  That he doesn’t go more than four days without a hit is a positive thing, but does it really say much about him as a hitter, or is it just a fun stat to cook up and talk about?

Well, they cooked it up, so now I’ll talk about it.

First, let’s look at some game logs for the past two seasons:

1Apr 7KCR@CHWL,2-4440
2Apr 8KCR@CHWW,2-0440
3Apr 9KCR@CHWW,2-1330
4Apr 10KCRNYYL,1-4321
5Apr 11KCRNYYL,1-6440
6Apr 12KCRNYYW,6-4100
7Apr 13KCRCLEW,4-2441
8Apr 14KCRCLEW,9-3432
9Apr 15KCRCLEL,4-5220
10Apr 17KCR@TEXW,12-3652
11Apr 18KCR@TEXW,2-0431
12Apr 19KCR@TEXL,5-6441
13Apr 21KCR@CLEL,7-8531
14Apr 22KCR@CLEW,2-0431
15Apr 23KCR@CLEL,2-5430
16Apr 24KCRDETW,6-1431
17Apr 25KCRDETL,1-9440
18Apr 27KCRTORW,7-1430
19Apr 29KCRTORW,11-3554
20Apr 30KCRTORW,8-6432
21May 1KCR@MINL,5-7440
22May 2KCR@MINW,10-7661
23May 3KCR@MINW,7-5000
24May 4KCRCHWW,3-0441
25May 5KCRCHWW,8-7442
26May 6KCRSEAW,9-1543
27May 7KCRSEAW,3-1442
28May 8KCR@LAAL,1-4442
29May 9KCR@LAAL,0-1430
30May 10KCR@LAAL,3-4441
31May 12KCR@OAKL,3-12430
32May 13KCR@OAKL,2-7431
33May 14KCRBALL,5-9552
34May 15KCRBALW,8-1441
35May 16KCRBALL,2-3440
36May 17KCRBALW,7-4552
37May 19KCRCLEW,6-5442
38May 20KCRCLEL,5-6541
39May 21KCRCLEL,3-8441
40May 22KCR@STLL,0-5110
41May 23KCR@STLL,0-5441
42May 24KCR@STLW,3-2442
43May 25KCRDETL,1-13441
44May 26KCRDETW,6-1441
45May 27KCRDETL,3-8441
46May 29KCRCHWL,2-11441
47May 30KCRCHWL,3-5441
48May 31KCRCHWL,4-7552
49Jun 2KCR@TBRL,2-6440
50Jun 3KCR@TBRL,0-9440
51Jun 4KCR@TBRL,2-3443
52Jun 5KCR@TORL,3-9441
53Jun 6KCR@TORW,6-2441
54Jun 7KCR@TORL,0-4441
55Jun 9KCR@CLEL,4-8551
56Jun 10KCR@CLEW,9-0551
57Jun 11KCR@CLEL,3-4542
58Jun 12KCRCINW,4-1441
59Jun 13KCRCINW,7-4553
60Jun 14KCRCINW,7-1440
61Jun 16KCRARIW,5-0421
62Jun 17KCRARIL,5-12542
63Jun 18KCRARIL,5-12441
64Jun 19KCRSTLL,5-10441
65Jun 20KCRSTLL,1-7440
66Jun 21KCRSTLL,5-12442
67Jun 23KCR@HOUW,2-1442
68Jun 24KCR@HOUW,4-3650
69Jun 25KCR@HOUL,4-5110
70Jun 26KCR@PITL,3-5431
71Jun 27KCR@PITL,2-6442
72Jun 28KCR@PITW,3-2110
73Jun 29KCRMINW,4-2552
74Jun 30KCRMINL,1-2440
75Jul 1KCRMINL,1-5444
76Jul 2KCRCHWL,1-4440
77Jul 3KCRCHWL,0-5441
78Jul 4KCRCHWW,6-4430
79Jul 5KCRCHWW,6-3542
80Jul 6KCR@DETW,4-3440
81Jul 7KCR@DETL,5-8552
82Jul 8KCR@DETL,1-3443
83Jul 9KCR@BOSW,8-6551
84Jul 10KCR@BOSL,0-1440
85Jul 11KCR@BOSL,9-15543
86Jul 12KCR@BOSL,0-6440
87Jul 17KCRTBRL,7-8541
88Jul 18KCRTBRL,2-4430
89Jul 19KCRTBRL,3-4554
90Jul 21 (1)KCRLAAL,5-8541
91Jul 21 (2)KCRLAAL,2-10431
92Jul 22KCRLAAL,6-9530
93Jul 24KCRTEXL,0-2440
94Jul 25KCRTEXW,6-3431
95Jul 26KCRTEXL,2-7440
96Jul 27KCR@BALW,5-3555
97Jul 28KCR@BALW,4-3551
98Jul 29KCR@BALL,3-7440
99Jul 30KCR@BALL,3-7551
100Jul 31KCR@TBRL,2-8431
101Aug 1KCR@TBRL,1-7441
102Aug 2KCR@TBRW,4-1440
103Aug 3KCR@TBRL,4-10430
104Aug 4KCRSEAL,6-7542
105Aug 5KCRSEAL,6-11543
106Aug 6KCRSEAW,8-2432
107Aug 7KCROAKL,4-9542
108Aug 8KCROAKW,12-6543
109Aug 9KCROAKL,3-6442
110Aug 11KCR@MINW,14-6661
111Aug 12KCR@MINL,1-7440
112Aug 13KCR@MINW,5-4442
113Aug 14KCR@DETL,0-1430
114Aug 15KCR@DETL,3-10431
115Aug 16KCR@DETW,3-2551
116Aug 17KCR@CHWL,7-8552
117Aug 18KCR@CHWW,5-4553
118Aug 19KCR@CHWL,2-4440
119Aug 21KCRMINL,4-5552
120Aug 22KCRMINL,7-8551
121Aug 23KCRMINL,3-10442
122Aug 24KCRCLEL,6-10440
123Aug 25KCRCLEW,6-2440
124Aug 26KCRCLEL,2-4443
125Aug 27KCR@SEAW,8-4441
126Aug 28KCR@SEAL,3-6440
127Aug 29KCR@SEAL,4-8441
128Aug 30KCR@SEAW,3-0441
129Aug 31KCR@OAKL,5-8420
130Sep 1KCR@OAKW,4-3421
131Sep 4KCRLAAL,1-2440
132Sep 5KCRLAAL,1-2542
133Sep 6KCRLAAL,2-7442
134Sep 7KCRLAAW,6-3543
135Sep 8KCRDETW,7-5432
136Sep 9KCRDETW,5-1553
137Sep 10KCRDETW,7-4552
138Sep 11KCR@CLEW,2-1551
139Sep 12KCR@CLEL,6-13541
140Sep 13KCR@CLEW,7-0551
141Sep 15KCR@DETW,11-1530
142Sep 16KCR@DETL,3-4440
143Sep 17KCR@DETW,9-2551
144Sep 18KCR@CHWW,11-0522
145Sep 19KCR@CHWL,3-13441
146Sep 20KCR@CHWW,2-1430
147Sep 21KCRBOSW,12-9542
148Sep 22KCRBOSW,5-1430
149Sep 23KCRBOSL,2-9552
150Sep 24KCRBOSL,3-10432
151Sep 25KCRMINL,4-9554
152Sep 26KCRMINL,6-11441
153Sep 27KCRMINW,4-1420
154Sep 28KCR@NYYL,2-8431
155Sep 29KCR@NYYL,3-4441
156Sep 30KCR@NYYW,4-3532
157Oct 2KCR@MINL,7-10551
158Oct 3KCR@MINL,4-5440
159Oct 4KCR@MINL,4-13440
1Apr 5KCRDETL,4-8441
2Apr 7KCRDETW,3-2551
3Apr 8KCRDETL,3-7421
4Apr 9KCRBOSW,4-3441
5Apr 10KCRBOSL,3-8430
6Apr 11KCRBOSL,6-8442
7Apr 12KCR@DETW,10-5552
8Apr 13KCR@DETL,5-6542
9Apr 14KCR@DETW,7-3531
10Apr 16KCR@MINL,3-10441
11Apr 17KCR@MINL,5-6440
12Apr 18KCR@MINW,10-5553
13Apr 19KCR@TORL,1-8440
14Apr 20KCR@TORL,3-4551
15Apr 21KCR@TORW,4-3442
16Apr 23KCRMINL,3-8440
17Apr 24KCRMINL,7-9664
18Apr 25KCRMINW,4-3441
19Apr 26KCRSEAW,3-1442
20Apr 27KCRSEAL,2-3432
21Apr 28KCRSEAL,5-6430
22Apr 29KCR@TBRL,1-11441
23Apr 30KCR@TBRW,3-2442
24May 1KCR@TBRW,4-2442
25May 2KCR@TBRL,0-1440
26May 3KCR@CHWL,1-5441
27May 4KCR@CHWW,7-2552
28May 5KCR@CHWL,2-9442
29May 6KCR@TEXL,12-13542
30May 7KCR@TEXL,1-4431
31May 8KCR@TEXL,2-3432
32May 9KCR@TEXL,4-6430
33May 11KCRCLEL,2-8441
34May 12KCRCLEL,0-4541
35May 13KCRCLEW,6-4441
36May 14KCRCHWW,6-1441
37May 15KCRCHWL,4-5432
38May 16KCRCHWW,5-3432
39May 17KCR@BALW,4-3442
40May 18KCR@BALL,3-4540
41May 19KCR@CLEW,8-4541
42May 20KCR@CLEW,9-3432
43May 21KCRCOLW,9-2441
44May 22KCRCOLL,0-3440
45May 23KCRCOLL,7-11554
46May 25KCRTEXL,7-8542
47May 26KCRTEXW,5-2442
48May 27KCR@BOSW,4-3531
49May 28KCR@BOSW,12-5652
50May 29KCR@BOSL,0-1430
51May 30KCR@BOSL,1-8432
52May 31KCRLAAL,1-7440
53Jun 1KCRLAAW,6-3430
54Jun 2KCRLAAL,2-7441
55Jun 3KCRLAAL,4-5440
56Jun 4KCRDETW,7-3442
57Jun 5KCRDETL,2-4431
58Jun 6KCRDETW,7-2441
59Jun 8KCR@MINL,3-7440
60Jun 9KCR@MINL,2-6441
61Jun 11KCR@CINW,6-5530
62Jun 12KCR@CINL,5-11553
63Jun 13KCR@CINW,7-3554
64Jun 15KCRHOUW,15-7543
65Jun 16KCRHOUL,2-4440
66Jun 17KCRHOUW,5-2442
67Jun 18KCR@ATLL,4-6431
68Jun 19KCR@ATLL,4-5440
69Jun 20KCR@ATLL,5-8551
70Jun 21KCR@WSNL,1-2441
71Jun 22KCR@WSNL,3-4440
72Jun 23KCR@WSNW,1-0441
73Jun 25KCRSTLW,4-2441
74Jun 26KCRSTLL,3-5441
75Jun 27KCRSTLW,10-3540
76Jun 28KCRCHWW,3-1442
77Jun 29KCRCHWL,3-4441
78Jun 30KCRCHWW,7-6532
79Jul 2KCR@LAAW,2-1420
80Jul 3KCR@LAAW,4-2400
81Jul 4KCR@LAAL,0-11431
82Jul 5KCR@SEAW,6-4531
83Jul 6KCR@SEAW,3-2432
84Jul 7KCR@SEAW,7-3532
85Jul 9KCR@CHWL,2-8430
86Jul 10KCR@CHWL,1-5440
87Jul 11KCR@CHWL,5-15442
88Jul 16KCROAKL,1-5441
89Jul 17KCROAKL,5-6430
90Jul 18KCROAKL,6-9551
91Jul 19KCRTORW,5-4541
92Jul 20KCRTORL,1-13441
93Jul 21KCRTORW,5-2441
94Jul 22KCR@NYYL,4-10542
95Jul 23KCR@NYYL,1-7441
96Jul 24KCR@NYYW,7-4441
97Jul 26KCRMINL,1-19440
98Jul 27KCRMINL,2-11542
99Jul 28KCRMINL,4-6551
100Jul 29KCRBALL,5-6531
101Jul 30KCRBALW,7-5531
102Jul 31KCRBALW,4-3441
103Aug 1KCRBALW,5-4441
104Aug 2KCR@OAKL,0-6320
105Aug 3KCR@OAKW,3-2431
106Aug 4KCR@OAKL,3-4430
107Aug 6KCR@SEAL,1-7441
108Aug 7KCR@SEAW,2-1441
109Aug 8KCR@SEAL,2-3432
110Aug 9KCR@LAAL,4-6442
111Aug 10KCR@LAAL,1-3441
112Aug 11KCR@LAAL,1-2551
113Aug 12KCRNYYL,3-4430
114Aug 13KCRNYYW,4-3432
115Aug 14KCRNYYL,3-8441
116Aug 15KCRNYYW,1-0331
117Aug 17KCRCLEW,2-1431
118Aug 18KCRCLEW,9-7431
119Aug 19KCRCLEL,3-7532
120Aug 21 (1)KCRCHWW,6-5540
121Aug 21 (2)KCRCHWL,6-7441
122Aug 22KCRCHWW,3-2441
123Aug 23KCR@DETL,3-12442
124Aug 24KCR@DETL,1-9441
125Aug 25KCR@DETW,4-3551
126Aug 28KCR@CLEL,3-4110
127Aug 29KCR@CLEW,6-2552
128Aug 30KCRTEXL,0-3431
129Aug 31KCRTEXW,10-9552
130Sep 1KCRTEXL,3-4520
131Sep 3KCRDETL,5-9552
132Sep 4KCRDETL,4-6443
133Sep 5KCRDETW,2-1442
134Sep 6KCR@MINL,4-5441
135Sep 7KCR@MINL,3-10110
136Sep 10KCR@CHWL,3-4440

One reason why I’m skeptical of proclaiming anything from some kind of streak like this is that “getting a hit in a series” can mean getting one hit or seven hits, so it’s not very precise in what it says.  Joe DiMaggio got a base hit in 56 straight games in 1941, and that record is unlikely to ever fall.  But let’s say a genie offered you a chance to play a full season of 162 games and that you’d get one base hit in every single one.  Would that make you a great hitter?  Consistent, yes, but if it’s only one hit a game, in four at bats per game, you’re only hitting .250 on the year (and who knows if you ever take a walk).  Baseball historians would say your streak was great…BUT.  For the record, DiMaggio hit .357 in 1941, so he was assuredly getting more than a hit a game in his streak.

In Butler’s case, if he got only one hit in a series over two years, that’d be around 100 hits.  Total.  The streak would still exist, but it wouldn’t mean he was all that good, just that he got a hit in every series.

So here’s my crude way of looking at this series streak.  Butler has 1250 plate appearances over the life of the streak.  And let’s include the 0-fer at Chicago last year for 97 total series.  That works out to 12.89 plate appearances per series.  He has 341 hits in the last two years, or 3.5 per series.

That set my paramaters of an average series for Billy Butler at 13 plate appearances and 3.5 base hits.  Considering that some series are only two games and some are four games (and that Butler won’t play in every game), it’s not perfect, but I think it’s enough to set those as benchmarks.  If Billy gets less than 3.5 hits in a series (which works out conveniently for an over/under), I’ll call it a weak series.  If he has more than 3.5 hits, I’ll call that a strong series.  For this streak the Royals keep mentioning to matter, I think Billy should have more strong series than weak.

Over the course of the last two seasons, Butler has gotten 13 plate appearances or more in 63 series.  He’s gotten four or more hits in 38 of those.  So 60% of the time, he has what I would arbitrarily call a “strong series”.  If you give him some leeway for not being able to get half of a hit and lower that standard to three hits in a series, he’s done that in 70 of 97 series overall.

And in 2010, he got at least three hits in every series, regardless of how often he came to the plate, in 16 of the first 17 series.

How about the frequency in which Butler has gotten a lone cheap hit in a series to keep the streak going?  He’s done that 12 times, though only four have happened this year.  And only three of those series have seen him go to the plate 13 times or more.

In other words, okay, it does show something.  Butler hits a lot and is consistent at doing so.  Considering he’s sitting on a .305 batting average combining the last two years, I’d say that’s pretty good.

It’s not a perfect measurement, of course, considering that any seeing eye single counts and again, someone could go 1-10 over the course of a million series and still only bat .100.  And since there are two and four game series among the typical three game tilts, the separation of a “series” is shaky and also arbitrary like the streak itself.

It seems Butler had that covered, as while he’s had seven instances where he’s gone two consecutive games without a hit, over the last two years, he’s never gone three without a hit (with the exception of the first series of 2009).

If nothing else is significant about the streak, that part, at least, should be.

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