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An ode to Country Breakfast

Lost in the roasting of Kansas City over the booing of Robinson Can0 was the sentiment that fans around baseball would not want to see Billy Butler compete in the Home Run Derby because they don’t even know who he is. If nothing else, after the heroic performance of the fans, at least no one can say that anymore. What’s more, it is about time. Time that Billy Butler get the recognition he deserves.

While the chances of Butler breaking Steve Balboni’s embarrassing home run record seem to be fading, he is nonetheless on pace to put together his most impressive season as  Royal. As of July 18, Butler was on pace for .300/32/100 while posting a career best 136 OPS in a lineup that has offered little in the way of protection. What’s more, Butler is well on his way to cementing his place as the best DH in Royals history and quite possibly the second best hitter in franchise history.

At 26 years old, Butler has already joined the Kansas City Royals all-time top ten in doubles (8th) and RBI (10th); he also has the fourth best career batting average (.297) and the fifth best OPS+ (121). Butler is under club control until 2015, and assuming he isn’t traded and maintains his pace of the last 2 ½ seasons, his totals will look something like this in October of 2015:

1510 hits- 6th

351 doubles- 5th

165 home runs- 5th

751 RBI- 6th

510 BB- 5th

Not overly impressive until you think about the fact that he would still only be 29 years old. Considering that Butler is limited to the American League in terms of value, he’s not the type of power hitter that demands a huge contract, and he seems to genuinely enjoy playing in Kansas City, he could very well be the type of player we didn’t think we would see again; a great hitter to play his whole career in Kansas City. It’s foolish to say you can accurately predict what is career would look like if he did, but it’s hard to imagine that he couldn’t play at at least the same level from 26-33 as he has from 23-26. Let’s take a look at those numbers again, assuming he does:

2254 hits- 2nd

527 doubles- 2nd

249 home runs- 2nd

1123 RBI- 2nd

770 BB- 5th

The point of this is not to project Butler’s stats over an entire career, but it is pretty easy to see that he could make a run at some incredible milestones. Ten years ago we were sure that the economics of baseball would keep us from ever having a member of the 3,000 hit club play their entire career for the Kansas City Royals, Butler could. Here are the hit totals of some of the more recent members of the 3,000 hit club at 26 years old:

Billy Butler- 864

Rafael Palmeiro- 805

Tony Gwyn- 770

Craig Biggio- 624

Wade Boggs- 531

It seemed even less likely that we’d see another Royal get 600 doubles in a Royals uniform, but again, at age 26:

George Brett- 211

Billy Butler- 198

Barry Bonds- 184

Paul Molitor- 147

Every player that has reached either one of those milestones, and is eligible for induction, is in the Hall of Fame except for Rafael Palmeiro. Billy could reach both, even without the expected surge in his performance over the next 3-5 years.  I guess I am okay with the rest of baseball not realizing what a great hitter Billy Butler is, but it would sure be a shame if there was one baseball fan in Kansas City that didn’t.

While we sit around and worry about not being able to sign the Hosmer’s and Moustakas’ of the world, let’s make sure we are celebrating #Country Breakfast, and keeping him around. While we lament the loss of Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye, let’s consider that Billy Butler is a better hitter than any of them were through age 26.

You can argue until you’re blue in the face about whether booing Can0 was classless or small-time. I really don’t care even if you’re right. In my eyes it showed an appreciation of Billy that is long overdue, and hopefully the beginning of a love affair that lasts the next 10-15 years.

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2 Responses to “An ode to Country Breakfast”

  1. caughtstealin32 says:

    Great article Kook Aid–Butler is a special player and I really hope he can play his entire career in KC. The Royals desperately need someone to become the face of the team in the line of Brett and Sweeney. Butler can do it. Thanks for the interesting read.

  2. caughtstealin32 says:

    I meant KOOL-Aid. Sorry for the typo.

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