Since May 1st, Billy Butler has hit .230/.289/.298 over the span of 47 games for the Oakland Athletics.
He has played a grand total of two games this season at first base, meaning he has had one priority, and that is to hit the baseball. He has underwhelmed.
There was much scuttle after the 2014 season when General Manager Dayton Moore chose to opt out of the contract that would have paid Billy somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million for one more year of service. While looking back it seems like an important decision, at the time it seemed more a forgone conclusion than anything available for debate. It was expected.
Royals fans have always had a love/hate relationship with Butler. While he has been a frustrating double play machine (twice leading the league, 2013 and 2010) he had still managed to become a fixture in the lineup. Every night, Billy would be there. From 2007 to 2015 he played in a total of 1,236 games and had 5,104 plate appearances. He ranks eighth all-time in Royals history in games played, plate appearances, home runs, sixth in RBI’s, and towards the bottom in stolen bases….but at the top of memorable stolen bases.
Billy made his lone All Star Appearance in 2012. The game being in Kansas City, he was the catalyst for the Boo Cano movement that saw a jam packed stadium full of slighted Royals fans unleashing a unified message to Robinson Cano that if you mess with one of ours, you mess with us.
He was often criticized for his less than rocket speed and was often the butt of many derogatory jokes, jabs and tweets – the whipping boy – but at the end of the day, he was still a Royal and the fans accepted him as such.
Too see Billy struggle in such a manner brings with it some interesting feelings.
On one hand, did we not all see this coming? Sure, there was HOPE of a resurgence, but at 29 years old and declining in almost every offensive category over the last three seasons before this one, it seemed unlikely. It was hoped a change of scenery would be enough to exercise the demons that had seen him whither in Kansas City, but early returns are not looking good.
In 2012, during that All-Star season, Billy looked like the next star of the franchise. At 26 year old, he came just shy of a 30 home run season, had 32 doubles, slugged .510 and won the Silver Slugger award for a DH. It was thought that this was the BEGINNING. As it turned out, it was the apex.
The following season, Butler still managed a respectable .787 OPS, but his power had diminished at an alarming rate as he only managed 15 home runs and his doubles were down to 27. Being as 2013 was hard on a number of Royals hitters, it was chalked up as a down year. Go get ‘em next year.
In 2014, it was much the same. Decline. Single digit home runs (although the same goes for Eric Hosmer), and only a .702 OPS. In 2015, his home runs were more prevalent early, but he currently sits at five and sports a .658 OPS. It sure hurts to watch this happen to you Billy…but I guess thank goodness you are doing it over THERE!
Dayton, in somewhat of a damage control move after losing Butler to the A’s in free agency signed Kendrys Morales to replace him as the Royals primary DH. An optimist would have classified the reaction as “mixed.”
Moralas had a less than stellar 2014 himself after beginning the year late. His .612 OPS was the lowest he had ever finished a season with and his eight home runs was down considerably. At 31 years old, he looked like an older, more drastically aged player than what Butler was even exhibiting.
So what has happened? Of course, he comes to Kansas City and through the first 69 games has hit .287/.345/.457. He has already matched last seasons home run and RBI totals and is close to already having as many hits. He has slowed a bit in the month of June, but not enough to raise the alarms just yet. He has an active 8-game hitting streak, and is looking to rebound.
Morales is currently signed to a 2-year $17 million deal (with a mutual option for the third year). Butler is signed to a 3-year $30 million dollar deal. It hurts to say, but we are approaching the completion of the first QUARTER of Kendrys’ contract, and it looks like Dayton Moore may have made the right choice.
It hurts to watch a former fan favorite struggle, but if anything is going to ease the pain, it’s that his replacement continues to help his team win ball games. Someday Billy will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame and hopefully retire as a Royal, but until that day, we are stuck deciding how to feel. So long #CountryBreakfast, hello #CubanBreakfast.
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