Billy Butler, 2011 MLB Fantasy Baseball Breakout Candidate

Fantasy Knuckleheads@_knuckleheadsCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2011

SURPISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals bats during a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Rob Tringali/Getty Images

I want everyone to take a deep breath.

What I am about to say is nothing short of shocking, mind-bending and literally unbelievable.

Royals first baseman Billy Butler stole a base Sunday in the Royals' spring opener against the Texas Rangers.

I know—incredibly strange news considering Butler only has one career stolen base in 533 games in the majors, but manager Ned Yost told MLB.com that he wants to see his players running more this season.

“Billy got one in the intrasquad game the other day, too,” Yost said.

“You can pick your spots in those situations, and we’re looking to do that whenever we can.”

Yost believes that Butler could reach double-digit steals this season.

“I have one in my career, and Ned’s going to be a little more aggressive than managers we’ve had in the past,” Butler said.

Butler went 1-for-2 with two RBI and a walk in his debut, only to follow that up with an identical line on Monday with an added run scored.

Billy Butler is an interesting player with a lot of tools that are just beginning to maturate.

He can obviously hit for power, get on base and drive in runs and in 2011, Butler is primed for an explosion.

Let’s take a look.


Billy Butler, 1B-DH, Kansas City Royals

Assets

- Strong power bat who can drive in runs.

- Consistent hitter with a well-trained eye; won’t hurt you anymore on SO.

- Should afford fantasy baseball owners about 10 to 15 bags this year for some unexpected value.

Flaws

- Defensively, not that good.

- Needs to prove that last year’s drop-off was a fluke and not a sign of things to come.

ADP: 84.26 / 1B Rank: 13 / OVRL Rank: 82 / Round: Four or five

2010 Stat Line

ABRHDBLTRPLHRRBIBBKSBCSAVGOBPSLG
595771894501578697800.318.388.469

2011 Projected Stat Line

ABRHDBLTRPLHRRBIBBKSBCSAVGOBPSLG
5858319142021907288104.327.393.510

2011 Fantasy Outlook

Many owners were scorned by Billy Butler last year in what they felt was going to be his breakout year.

But the fact of the matter is the Royals had him working on some specifics. While Butler did decline in RBI (93 to 78) and home runs (21 to 15) last year, he improved his average and on-base percentage and significantly decreased his strikeout count (103 to 78).

Combine that strikeout count with the fact that the kid hit a career-high .318 last year—not to mention being a lifetime .299 hitter—and suddenly, this 25-year-old near-elite power bat is already doing things middle-of-the-order guys only dream of.

If you decline on Butler in the first round of your draft, consider him a high-end early second-rounder with huge upside, especially with news that Yost wants his boys running the paths this year.

That's something that Butler appears to be good at.