Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Butler And His Impact For The Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports


Spring Training is finally here. Baseball is back. Billy Butler will still be sporting royal blue come March 31st.

Butler was the subject of many rumors this off season. Mainly, it was concerning the idea of trading him to clear some space on the payroll so that we could sign a top free agent pitcher or Carlos Beltran. It is hard to tell how serious any of these rumors were, but the point is, nothing was made of the rumors, and the Royals still have one of the league’s best designated hitters.

Now, for his whole career, Billy Butler has been criticized for his lack of power, his speed, his weight, his GIDP numbers; you name it, Butler has took the criticism. My question, though: why?

Butler is in the middle of his prime at age 27 (soon to be 28), and isn’t very expensive at a price of roughly $7.5 million per year. He is completely worth the space on the payroll.

Just to prove a point, I’m going to compare a couple of career statistics of Billy Butler and one of MLB’s all-time great designated hitters, David Ortiz. This is strictly to put it into perspective. Billy Butler is one of the Majors’ best designated hitters.

First of all, Billy Butler has been very durable over his 7 year career. On average, he plays 30 more games per season than Ortiz. And in those 145 games he averages per season, he strikes out one less time than Ortiz does in 115 games on average.

Butler’s ability to put the ball in play has led to a career batting average of .298, or 11 points higher than Ortiz’s .287 career average.

It’s no secret that Ortiz hits more home runs than Butler. However, in his career, Ortiz only averages 25 long bombs a season. Butler is only eight short of that with an average of 17 a year. I would have guessed that that margin would have been greater.

Although nothing is quite like a homer, Butler averages five more doubles per season than Ortiz.

In addition to all of this, Butler has a career On Base rate of .364 which isn’t quite as spectacular as Ortiz’s .381 rate, but that is why Ortiz is arguably the best of all-time.

All of these statistics are not to try to prove that Butler is better than Ortiz, because he’s not. It’s to prove that Billy Butler is worth a lot more than Kansas City gives him credit for. He is arguably one of the top 5 designated hitters of the decade.  So why is Kansas City in such a hurry to get him out of here?


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Tags: Billy Butler David Ortiz Kansas City Royals

  • jessanders

    Because “Kansas City” doesn’t value OBP, RC, wOBA or any of the other stats that ACTUALLY determine how good a hitter is. They value home runs, and because our team is bad at them hitting them, they also value stolen bases. Butler isn’t the best in the league at hitting homers, though he’s not bad given the ballpark factors. He certainly doesn’t steal many bases. He is one of the slowest runners in the league, but more than makes up for that by being one of the best hitters in the league.

    He can be frustrating at times, but he’s the most consistent hitter on the Royals for several years. The thing is, we need him to be the 3rd best hitter on the team this year for us to compete. We need Hosmer and one of Gordon, Infante, Aoki or Gordon to be a better hitter than Billy’s career average.

    Here’s hoping.

  • jimfetterolf

    The Billy-haters are a small fringe and few people take them seriously. Bill should have a good year this time with Gordon hitting behind him and will be an important part of this year’s success. Even next year after a raise he’ll still be worth the money.

  • Alan Becker

    Given he hits at kaufman half the time, what do thy expect his hr number to be. Can’t get a big obs number without some 4′s. Think he might look better at Fenway or Yankee stadium?

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    I personally am not a Butler fan. I get that his OBP and OPS are solid and look good. Looking at his numbers he looks like someone you would want on your team. Their is really nothing about him that looks bad.

    My dislike for Butler goes strickly fan based. Butler ended last year hitting the ball well. The first 3/4 of the year he was terrible. I told my friends, I can’t cheer for Billy till he hits over .290 or gets to 20 HRs. Billy didn’t get even close to hitting .290 until the last quarter of the year. Billy never got close to hitting 20 HRs. Almost ever stat has been the lowest he’s had in the last 3 years. The biggest mistake Billy made last year was promising that he would hit over 30 HRs. That he was going to come back as a big power hitter and lead the team. Then coming out and having one of the worst years in a while as a Royal. I’m pretty sure Butler struck out more on a slider or two seam fastball low and away then anyone else in the league. Or he would ground the ball out to 3B, SS or 2B. It almost became predictable as to how Butler was going to get out.

    If Butler is going to be deemed the “best hitter” on the team, then he needs to perform as a hitter. He has hit 20 HRs twice in his career and had over 100 RBIs once in his career. Being the “best hitter” on the team is being the leader in more than one stat every year. Hitting HRs in the teens every year and not hitting 100 RBIs shouldn’t happen. The point of having a DH is having someone who is only their to hit.

    In my opinion, we can’t call Butler an All-Star player either. He made the All-Star team on a technicallity, in my opinion, because of the All-Star game being played in KC. Now, that may be a bold statment, but what did Butler do that was so much better then Gordon in 2012? Butler is a fan favorite, which is why he was nominated to represent KC. Gordon would get that vote now if it came to it again.

    As for the money, we are paying Butler $8M this year and then next year we will pay him $12.5M. That’s a lot of money for a DH, especially one that doesn’t always do what his position calls for, hitting. I don’t want a DH to walk, I want a DH that hits, consistantly. I’m not saying he wont have a bounce back year this year or maybe with a lineup that seems legitimate and no question marks he will succeed. I hope he succeeds, but if he keeps going the way he is, is spending $12.5M next year on a DH that rarely hits 20 HRs and maybe gets close to 100 RBIs? Or would you rather spend the money on the attempt, but most likely failed attempt, to bring Shields back or even extending Hosmer. In my mind, Butler needs to have a great year and not an average year like he usually does.

    Like I said though, number wise he looks good. But me being a fan, I’m ready to see him go.