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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BILLY BUTLER 1B./DH OAKLAND A'S

                                           Billy Butler

Obviously overshadowed by the massive contract extension officially signed by Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton on Wednesday, there was other business that took place around fantasy baseball.  Once such case was in Oakland where the A's inked free agent 1B/DH Billy Butler to a three-year deal worth $30 million.  Butler will mostly serve as the team's DH, while also getting some spot starts at 1B as he had done the last four years with the Kansas City Royals.  So with all that said, let's take a closer look at Butler and see what he could supply his prospective owners in 2015 fantasy baseball. 

Despite the feeling that Butler has been around forever, he turns only 29 this April which is still flat in his hitting prime.  Unfortunately, Butler's hitting has left a lot to be desired over the last two years when it was starting to look like he was one of the game's emerging stars.  Having made his MLB debut at the very young age of 21, Butler has been the definition of solid but unspectacular in his career outside of one magical season.  Heading into the 2012 season, Butler was a guy who had shown himself to be a .300-average hitter who collected a bunch of RBI and hit between 15 and 20 home runs.  While the average and RBI were very nice, Butler's light power output was a decent negative for a guy who carried 1B eligibility.  As always, you want to get a good deal of home runs from your first baseman as this is the biggest power-producing position in the game.  At the very least you want 25 home runs there of which Butler didn't measure up.  However Butler was entering his prime years in 2012 and that long wait for him to tap into his power potential was seemingly finally realized.  Butler would go on to hit 29 home runs, collected 107 RBI, and batted .307.  Numbers that clearly measured up for a starting first baseman in fantasy baseball.  Thus as 2013 dawned, Butler saw his draft price soared as it was expected he would now become a firm 25-home run guy to go with the terrific RBI and batting average.  However we advised against going overboard with Butler prior to that season as the 29 home run looked a bit like an outlier to us as Butler never came close to that level of power before.  Fast forward to the end of the 2013 season and we were justified in our pessimism as Butler took a giant step back in a terrible year.  The result was a 15 HR/82RBI/.289 campaign that earned the wrath of his annoyed fantasy baseball owners.  As a result Butler was back to square one when it came to his standing as a UTIL/CI bat only.

Well 2014 would prove to be more of the same for Butler and in actuality it was an even worse season as he couldn't even reach double-digits in home runs with a paltry 9.  What made matters even worse was the fact Butler crashed and burned with his RBI and average as well which were the two areas he was dependable and effective.  Butler collected only 66 RBI and batted a terrible .271, with the latter being a career-low.  Those numbers were not even worthy of UTIL/CI status, so bad was Butler's hitting. 

Fast forward again to present day and Butler gets a clean slate with the Oakland A's as their mostly DH and sometimes 1B.  While Butler remains young at 29 and still in his prime, the change doesn't do much of anything for him since O.Co Coliseum is one of the worst power parks in baseball.  While we don't think Butler won't be as bad with his hitting as he was last season, we still can't endorse him as a 20-plus home run guy since he has fallen short of that mark by growing margins the last two years.  We certainly think Butler could rebound to a .280-plus hitter as he has a good eye and a nice batting approach.  Also Butler should go right back past the 80-plus RBI mark again as he will be slotted into the middle of the Oakland lineup.  Butler also doesn't steal bases and has never scored more than 78 runs in a season which make him a negative in those areas.  If you put the numbers together though, they still fall short of first base worthiness.  Butler simply doesn't do enough in the power department to be more than his current UTIL/CI status. 

2015 PROJECTION:  .290 15 HR 93 RBI 74 R 2 SB
 

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