Friday, September 16, 2016

Meet a Prospect: Billy Butler

When the New York Yankees first learned the news that outfielder Aaron Judge would probably miss the remainder of the regular season with a Grade 2 strain of his right oblique muscle the team scrambled to find a replacement for the team that is fighting for their playoff lives. New York scoured the waiver wire and found former Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals designated hitter and first baseman Billy Butler. Now it seems that Tyler Austin will take over the everyday right field duties for Judge along with Mason Williams while Butler takes over the first base and occasional DH duties vacated by Austin. Now’s is a good time to meet him so let’s do it. This is Meet a Prospect: The Billy Butler Edition.

Billy Ray Butler, born William Raymond Butler Jr., was born on April 18, 1986 and has played for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics from the 2007 season through the 2016 season to date. Before becoming a Major Leaguer though Butler spent his time at Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Florida where he was teammates with a former first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers Eric Hurley. Butler also went in the first round, 14th overall, when the Kansas City Royals took him in the 2004 MLB First Year Players Draft. Butler took a $1.45 million signing bonus to forego his commitment to the University of Florida and begin his professional career.

Butler made his MLB debut on May 1, 2007 with Kansas City and singled in his first at bat. After an injury to Mike Sweeney landed him on the disabled list Butler was here to stay in the Kansas City lineup. Butler improved in 2008 from his rookie campaign but he really broke out in 2009 when he hit .301 in over 500 at bats while solidifying himself at the Royals third place hitter in the lineup due to his power, contact and on-base percentage skills. Butler was great again in the 2010 season for Kansas City, although his power numbers dipped slightly, raising his batting average to .318 and his OBP to .388 which earned him a new four-year contract worth $30 million from the team.

Butler was given that money to play first base for Kansas City but after the promotions of first baseman Kila Ka’aihue and eventually some guy named Eric Hosmer the Royals first baseman found himself playing DH more and more throughout the year. Butler was named to his first American league All-Star Game in 2012 as a DH thanks to manager Ron Washington hand selecting him and Butler finished the 2012 season by winning the American league Silver Slugger Award for the DH position and the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award as well.

Butler played in all 162 games in 2013 for the first time in his career and it may or may not have led to him having one of his worst seasons in his career in 2014. Butler hit only nine home runs and knocked in just 66 RBI while his batting average and other triple slash numbers hit career lows. Butler went to the World Series with Kansas City but after hitting just .217 in the postseason the Royals declined his club option making him a free agent. Butler signed a three-year deal with the Oakland Athletics for $30 million the following November but his stats never regained their 2011-2014 form. Butler spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with Oakland before a falling out of sorts with the Athletics led to his release on September 11.

Back in August of this year Butler was involved in a clubhouse fight with Danny Valencia and was placed on the seven-day concussion DL because of it. Less than a month later he was a free agent, that’s probably not a coincidence. But the past is where it needs to be, in the past, and now he’s with the Yankees organization after signing a Major League contract. So welcome to the team, welcome to the family and please try not to pick on the little guy Ronald Torreyes. He can’t help it he’s so small. Sorry, I had to take a jab. I’m really glad you’re here though. Welcome again!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)