Major League Baseball announced today that Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals has been voted the winner of the 2012 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. Butler received 80 first-place votes out of 84 ballots cast to garner the honor for the first time in his six-year career. He becomes the second Royal to be named the league’s top designated hitter, joining three-time winner Hal McRae who took home the award in 1976, 1980 and 1982 while playing for Kansas City. Edwin Encarnacion finished second with 35 second-place votes after slugging a career-best 42 home runs and 110 RBI for the Toronto Blue Jays this past season.
Butler batted .313 (192-for-614) with 32 doubles, one triple, 29 home runs, 107 RBI and 72 runs scored in 161 games in 2012. He notched the eighth season in franchise history with at least a .300 batting average, 25 homers and 100 RBI, the first Kansas City player to do so since Carlos Beltran in 2003, and his 29 homers were the most by a Royal since Jermaine Dye launched 33 home runs during the 2000 season. Among qualifying designated hitters with a minimum of 100 at-bats at the position, the Florida native finished first in games played (138), at-bats (538), runs scored (61), base hits (170), doubles (29), RBI (93), batting average (.315), on-base percentage (.371) and slugging percentage (.501). In addition, Butler was second in homers (23) and stood third in walks (42). The 26-year-old established career-bests in games, at-bats, hits, homers, RBI, slugging and total bases (313), leading his club in all three Triple Crown categories. The righty-hitting Butler finished fifth in hits, sixth in RBI, was tied for seventh in total bases and was eighth in batting average among all A.L. hitters.
Billy added numerous accomplishments to his career resume after posting one of his finest offensive seasons to date, including being named as the Royals representative in the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City; he was named the A.L. Player of the Week for the period ending July 29th; he earned his first-career Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award on November 8th, the first Royals player to win the award since Dean Palmer in 1998; and he was named the Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) for the third time in his career (also 2009-10), joining George Brett, Amos Otis and Mike Sweeney as the only three-time winners of the honor.
Now in its 38th season, the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was renamed by Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig in a September 2004 ceremony at Safeco Field in honor of the retiring Edgar Martinez. Ballots are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and A.L. public relations departments with nominees including all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.