A Butler bounce back could be key to Royals offense in 2014
It is no secret to Royals fans that 2013 was a down year for Billy Butler. After a career year in 2012, the Kansas City designated hitter saw an extreme drop in his overall numbers, especially the power numbers. The seven-year MLB veteran posted his lowest home run and RBI totals since 2010 and his lowest batting average and OPS since 2008.
After a 29 HR and 107 RBI season in 2012, the Royals brass saw another big year on the horizon for Butler in 2013. However, Butler hit only 15 HR and drove in 82 runs in what was a disappointing year. It wasn’t necessarily a bad year for Butler, but the Royals needed and expected more from the big slugger. His .289 average was a bit down from his career mark of .298. Butler is known as a good average hitter and has three seasons in which he hit above .300.
Butler is a popular name in trade rumors, because some baseball people believe he could bring back a solid pitching piece. However, if he is moved, it would be a big blow to an offense that struggled to score runs last season. The Royals were 11th in the American League in runs scored last season. Because he is limited to a DH role due to his lack of speed and fielding ability, his trade value is somewhat limited. He would likely need to stay in the American League unless a National League team would be willing to try him at first base (Butler played seven games at first base for the Royals last year). Many AL teams already have a trusted DH or like to rotate players in the DH spot instead of using only one. This could severely reduce the amount of potential trade partners.
There has been a lot of talk about players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez breaking out this year to help a Royals offense that was very weak on power (KC was 28th in the MLB in home runs). While it is important that the young Royals hitters take the next step this year, if Butler bounces back from last year and hits more like he did in 2012, the Royals offense will get a big boost. Because of this the Royals would be wiser to keep Butler and hope he returns closer to his career numbers than his 2013 numbers. The Royals did little in the off-season to beef up their lineup, so a Butler resurgence would be huge for Kansas City.