Yesterday DH Billy Butler took home the Les Milgram Award. Voted upon by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the Milgram goes to the Royals Player of the Year and has been handed out annually since 1971 when Freddie Patek and Amos Otis shared the honors.
With two Royals PoY awards already under his belt – in 2009 and 2010 – Butler’s third such award put him in very heady company within the organization’s history. He joined George Brett (8), Amos Otis (3) and Mike Sweeney(3) as the only players to be so honored three or more times.
In case you’re wondering, pitchers are not eligible for the Les Milgram as the Royals also name a Pitcher of the Year and have done so since 1971 as well (Greg Holland was recently named the 2012 recipient).
Winning a Royals specific honor is nothing to sneeze at, but Billy took home a much more recognized award today when he won the American League’s 2012 Silver Slugger Award at DH. In doing so he became the 7th player in team history to win one, and the first since 1998 (Dean Palmer).
Both awards come on the back of Butler’s best season in his six year major league career. The 26-year old hit 0.313/.373/.510 with 32 2B, 29 HR, 107 RBI, 54 BB and 111 SO while playing in all but one of Kansas City’s 162 games. As a DH specifically he hit a very similar line of 0.315/.371/.501. His DH totals included 29 2B, 23 HR and 93 RBI in 138 games. Among his AL peers, he finished 8th in BA, 9th in OPS, 6th in RBI, 7th in TB (Total Bases) and 8th in Adjusted OPS+. No, he didn’t crack the leaderboard in stolen bases, but he was successful on 2/3 attempts for the second straight season.
While his 140 OPS+ in 2012 was the best mark of his career, it was the fourth straight season he’s finished at or above 125. Just another fact that cements something we’ve known since his rookie season – Billy Butler can hit.
With his third Les Milgram Award and his first Silver Slugger in hand, it’s safe to assume that more and more fans outside of Kansas City and the AL Central will start taking notice of our young slugger. Making his first All-Star team this past summer and being at the center of the Cano-HR Derby debacle – while handling it with complete class – certainly didn’t hurt his visibility either.
Butler won’t turn 27 until the middle of April and there is every reason to expect that he will be able to replicate or improve upon his offensive output of this past year, especially as the lineup around him continues to improve. Given where he is in the arc of his career and since the Royals have him under a team friendly contract* through 2015, Dayton Moore would be foolish to deal him unless he’s completely overwhelmed by an offer.
*Butler will earn $8 million in 2013, another $8 million in 2014 and $12.5 million in 2015 if the team picks up the option on his deal.
While he may be limited to DH/1B, Billy’s level of production and consistency at the plate is a true commodity. We all hope that Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas can develop into similar assets, but Butler has proven that he ‘s already there.