KC Royals: Only 2 locks in club’s Hall of Fame field

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Billy Butler
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals Hall of Fame needs “Country Breakfast.” It’s going to get him.

There was something about Billy Butler. Perhaps it was the ever-present smile, or the boundless enthusiasm with which he seemed to play the game. Maybe it was his power; maybe it was the obvious will to win that helped him survive the lean years leading to his only trip to the World Series.

Whatever it was, it made KC Royals fans love him, and sit up and take notice whenever he came to the plate. If “Country Breakfast” wasn’t their favorite, he was close.

Butler debuted with the team he spent most of his 10-year career with in 2007, five years before his best season earned him a 2012 All-Star berth and Silver Slugger Award. He played in all but one game that year (he’d play them all in 2013), slammed a career high 29 homers, drove in a personal best 107 runs, and slashed .313/.373/.510. He was by then the KC Royals’ designated hitter, having reluctantly surrendered his favorite job to Eric Hosmer, the club’s emerging young first baseman.

His hard work on inferior teams paid off when Kansas City shook off 30 seasons of disappointment and frustration to reach the World Series in 2014. Although Butler hit only nine home runs during the regular season, he drove in two runs in the club’s epic Wild Card victory over Oakland, batted .286 and had three RBIs in the ALCS against Baltimore, and drove in another three runs and hit .333 in the World Series.

Butler left for a stunning three-year, $30 million contract with the A’s after that season, and was never the same again. Although he managed 15 homers in 2015, he had only four in 2016 when Oakland released him in mid-September; he caught on with the Yankees for 12 games, but hasn’t played since.

Too many remember Butler only for the home runs—he doesn’t get enough credit for being the good hitter he was. His eight-year Royal slash of .290/.354/.449, and career .290/.354/.441 line, prove he could do more than muscle balls out of ballparks. He handled his bat well and knew how to get on base.

Butler helped carry Kansas City fans through bad times. Sadly, he wasn’t around when the club finally won its second World Series, but he played a major role in preparing the Royals for that moment.

Will he gain election? Absolutely.

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Seven former Royals are up for the franchise Hall of Fame. Billy Butler and Johnny Damon are likely locks, and Yordano Ventura and Carlos Beltran are close.