Stay Dreamy, Drew
As the Kansas City Royals enter Spring Training, Kings of Kauffman will release a series of articles on the 25-man roster. We will be going through each individual player, including the locks, bubble players, and a few prospects. We will progress through the roster from the top down, continuing with the projected bench players.
So far, we have looked at Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young, Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, Wade Davis, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, Christian Colon, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Paulo Orlando, and Reymond Fuentes
Today, we will be looking at Drew Butera
WARNING: This post contains mild satire, along side legitimate sentiment and the usual analysis.
Interpret at your own discretion.
"2015 stats – .196/.252/.252, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 55 GP, 40 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR2016 Steamer – .208/.264/.303, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 10 GP, 53 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR"
Projected Role – Backup Catcher/Triple-A Catcher/The Greatest Man Alive
Ahh, Drew Butera. What a man.
Butera stepped into the Royals revolving door of backup catchers in 2015, playing in just 45 games, but that didn’t stop him from having an impact on the Royals postseason run.
In game four of the ALDS, Butera had a crucial, 11-pitch walk in the 8th inning to bring up Alex Gordon with the tying run on third base, who he drove in with a ground out.
In fact, Butera held onto the ball until FanFest, when he donated it to the Royals.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports wrote about this baseball, a piece that I would encourage you to read.
In it, he said this about Butera catching the final out of the World Series, despite only playing one inning in the Fall Classic.
"“When we think of the Royals, we imagine Salvador Perez crouching behind home plate. Minutes after Butera hugged Davis in midair, Perez was named World Series Most Valuable Player,” Morosi said. “In many ways, Perez is the Royals’ heart and soul. Yet, given the Royals’ unified ethos, there was something perfect about Butera capturing the final out.”"
Writing about a backup catcher that is a career .185 hitter is hard. There typically isn’t a lot to write about.
It is a testament to the Royals, however, that the person who contributed as little as any player in Kansas City caught the last out of the World Series and had the ball for almost three months.
And that’s about as serious and sentimental as this piece is going to get.
Outside of those moments, Butera’s largest contribution to the Royals was his hair, and that is saying something.
This is a classic Dayton Moore move. Building on strength. The Royals didn’t need Joakim Soria, but they went and got him, and now the game has been shortened even more in Kansas City, down to five innings.
The Royals didn’t need Butera’s hair. They certainly didn’t want his bat. But they got his hair.
Dang it guys, we got his hair.
Unfortunately, we may not have his hair for much longer.
Over the winter, the Royals traded for former Cardinals backup catcher Tony Cruz, who we will look at tomorrow.
The 25-year old has spent his five big league seasons backing up Yadier Molina, although he was more or less there when Molina needed a breather, not as a true back up.
When Molina was hurt in 2014, the Cardinals went out and signed A.J. Pierzynski rather than giving those at-bats to Cruz, and nobody will blame them.
For his career, Cruz has a 56 wRC+ while hitting just five home runs in over 600 plate appearances.
Not to be outdone, Butera has registered a career 39 wRC+, even though he has hit nine home runs in his 800+ plate appearances.
Going into 2016, Butera has four things going for him in the battle for the least used back up catchers job in baseball.
The first, obviously, is the hair. When I typed in “Tony Cruz hair” into google, I discovered that he has not once had anybody write or tweet about his hair. Just startling.
In fact, most of the google images were with Cruz wearing a hat, which tells me that he isn’t too confident in his flow.
His Wikipedia page even lists him as having “the best gosh dang hair in the business,” under his career achievements and awards.
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Secondly, on a more serious note, Butera is a better defender than Cruz. In four of his six major league seasons, Butera has posted a fWAR of five or better, four times. During that span, Butera never played more than 93 games, generally sat in the 40-60 game range.
Although Cruz’s bat is better than Butera’s, it isn’t that much better, and teams have generally valued defense and game calling more in backup catchers than offense.
Why do you think George Kottaras only spent one season in Kansas City, despite having one of the most epic offensive seasons ever^, and why would the Royals part ways with Brayan Pena, who is arguably the best offensive back up catcher in baseball?
^Not really, but if you’re into weird statistical anomalies, Kottaras is your guy. He put up a .719 OPS for the Royals in 2011, despite hitting .180. In fact, on June 28, Kottaras was hitting just .164, with a .764 OPS.
Thirdly, Butera is out of minor league options, while Tony Cruz isn’t. In reality, this isn’t a huge deal, because retaining both Butera and Cruz for the future probably isn’t on top of Dayton Moore’s agenda.
However, it is something, and going into a season where the Royals window is as open as it will ever be, it never hurts to have depth.
Finally, Butera is absolutely wrecking the Cactus League. Thus far, he has a .918 OPS, which is a huge improvement over his career .507 OPS.
In the span of just five at-bats from March 9-10, Butera doubled his home run output from 2015, hitting two home runs, compared to his one home run over 120 PA in ’15.
Is this sustainable? Who knows.
All I know is that I need Drew Butera to be a Royal. Salvador Perez needs him to flip his hair after hits.
He’s Ariana Grande’s cousin, for goodness sake.
Dayton Moore, if you’re reading this, please. Choose Butera.
I mean, seriously. Just look at that man.
Do the right thing, Dayton.