Kansas City Royals Welcome Back Billy Butler
By David Hill
When one thinks back on Billy Butler‘s tenure with the Kansas City Royals, it seems to lead back to disappointment and not reaching expectations. Butler was expected to be the next power hitter for the Royals, especially given his body type. His 29 home run season in 2012 was supposed to be the tip of the iceberg, and instead turned out to be a career high. Somehow, Butler became the symbol of the failures and the weaknesses of the Royals last season, the person that was blamed whenever anything went awry.
This ignores what Butler was for the Royals during his heyday. From 2009 through 2013, Butler averaged a .302/.372/.469 batting line, hitting twenty home runs with forty doubles. Maybe that is not the ideal production from a designated hitter, but that was still pretty good.
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Billy Butler was also not content to just sit back and swing the bat. Every day, even though he knew he was the Kansas City Royals designated hitter and that Eric Hosmer was entrenched at first, Butler still took fielding drills at first. His desire to become a better first baseman paid off last year when Hosmer was injured, as Butler was forced in to service at first and had become an essentially league average defensive player.
At the end of the season, when the Royals did not pick up his team option for the 2015 season, we knew that Country Breakfast would be leaving town. Sure enough, the Oakland A’s signed Butler to a three year, $30 Million contract. Butler would not be coming back.
When that news broke, it was truly a sad day. The longest tenured member of the Kansas City Royals was gone. Even though everything ended poorly for Billy Butler in Kansas City, you had the sense that he never wanted to leave. In fact, he has even said that he hopes to be a member of the Royals again some day.
Later today, Butler will be returning to Kauffman Stadium, but dressed in the uniform of the Oakland A’s. When last we saw the A’s, the Royals were busy running them out of the playoffs en route to their magical October run. Now, when they return, they will have the man who was 2-4 with two RBI, including one in the bottom of the eighth to further the Royals rally.
When Butler takes the field, remember what he meant to the Kansas City Royals. Remember that for years, even before Alex Gordon became the player he has, Butler was the Royals star player. Remember that he was a truly productive player for the Royals, and was their best hitter during a five year run.
Finally, let us remember Billy Butler for being who he was, and not what everyone thought he should be. He was a key part of the lineup, a doubles hitting machine who somehow embodied Kansas City Royals baseball. Let’s make his return home a welcome experience.