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?