Billy Butler: Will This Kansas City Royal Find Elite Status at First Base?

Joshua BurmeisterContributor IMarch 19, 2011

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 12: Billy Butler#16 of the Kansas City Royals hits a double during the spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Surprise Stadium on March 12, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Billy Butler was supposed to be on the verge of breaking out for an awe-inspiring amount of home runs last year. Finishing the year at 15 was obviously extremely low compared to the hopes and expectations the Kansas City Royal fans had.

His numbers on the season stayed within a respectable range as he tallied up 78 RBI with a .318 average. He crossed the plate 77 times and hit a precipitous 45 doubles. His on-base percentage crept up further last year hitting .388, making him a patient hitter as well as a solid hitter

The question then stands: Will he finally break out for power this year?

The answer to this question is tricky. Many believe the reason for his lack of numbers is the basic overall play of the Royals. If they were able to get on base more often, then Butler would have more RBI at the end of the season.

This idea is misleading. One statistic that is very concerning for Butler is that he happened to hit into 32 double-plays last season.

Most double-plays occur from lack of base running skills and speed by the man on first. In Butler’s circumstance, he was hitting behind both Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall. Podsednik has built his career around his ability to steal bases, while Kendall has been noted throughout his career as a heads-up base runner.

With two capable base runners on base in front of him, Butler still managed to ground out into 32 double-plays. Also, almost half of the double-plays (15) came with a runner in scoring position. This gives concern for his future numbers.

These statistics do not mean that Butler will be an MLB failure. His previous three seasons have already proven he is a success. All these statistics mean is that he has a slight concern when in the spot for run production.

Look for an interesting season out of Butler. While his doubles predict a high home run rate, his GDP shows a decrease in RBI production.

Only time will tell what Butler will do.