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Thursday, June 13, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: BILLY BUTLER 1B KANSAS CITY ROYALS

The 2013 All Star Game Home Run Derby captains were named over this past weekend with an all-New York theme being in play since the game itself will be played at the Mets' Citi Field.  Thus the announcement that Mets captain David Wright would be the National League Home Run Derby captain was no shock and it made sense that the Yankees' Robinson Cano would reprise his 2012 captaincy of the AL squad.  One of the big talking points of the 2012 Derby was the fact that Cano didn't select the Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler for the team despite the fact the latter's city was hosting the event.  Cano heard a ton of boos from the Kansas City fans the entire weekend which the he talked about at length with reporters last weekend.  Just for kicks a reporter asked Cano if he would in fact pick Butler for the 2013 squad to which the All Star second baseman deadpanned "not a chance."  And really no one can blame Cano for dissing Butler this time around as the latter has been more slap singles hitter than home run slugger this season.  In fact just to show you how power deficient Butler has been this season, he goes into Thursday night's game with a grand total of 5 home runs which is complemented by 34 RBI and a just all right .269 batting average.  This after Butler finally broke through on the big time power season both his body type and hitting profile suggested would be the case eventually as he he fell just one home run shy of 30.  At only 27 entering the 2013 season, many believed that Butler has finally arrived as one of the better home run hitters in the game and his higher than ever spring draft price suggested as much.  Needless to say Butler has been a massive disappointment overall for his annoyed fantasy baseball owners so without further delay let's take a look at what is going on with this situation.

Just to underscore the power shortfalls Butler has has this season. the lats home all the way back on May 14th which is a full month ago. Even though it seems like Butler has been around forever, as I noted earlier he is still only 27 which means he is now firmly entering his prime years.  Thus it wouldn't be a leap of faith to think the 29 home runs Butler hit in 2012 would be around where he would reside in that category for the next 5-7 years at the very least.  Instead what we have now is Butler back to his old doubles-heavy/15-23 home run ways that underscored his entire career up until last season.  Prior to 2012, Butler's yearly home run totals read like this:  8 (partial season), 11, 21, 15, and 19.  Those home run numbers just didn't move the excitement needle much despite Butler being a 100-plus RBI guy who was a lock to hit .300.  However with nothing to offers in the steals department and nothing overly impressive with his runs total due to his slow-footed nature, it was crucial for Butler to make inroads with his home runs in order to maximize his value.  So right now we are looking at Butler being on pace for only 17 home runs which would be a massive disappointment. 

Looking deeper into the numbers, the advanced stats bear out some of the reasons we are seeing Butler come up short clearing the fences.  His fly ball rate has taken more than a little dip from 2012 to 2013 which obviously will impact the amount of balls leaving the stadium.  Butler is also getting some poor luck with his BABIP which is why his average is lower than usual as well.  Put it all together and what we could possibly have is a 2012 home run output that could be in outlier territory.  We won't concretely conclude that is the case just yet as there is still a long amount of season remaining but we also have to look at the numbers for what they are.  While we remain bullish on Butler as a buy low guy, we also can't guarantee the home runs will come back to his 2012 levels.  Just another frustrating chapter in the man's up and down career.


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