Billy Butler Player Projection No. 99

Key Stats: Ignore the position that Billy Butler plays for just a second and think of him exclusively as a utility player. He will help you in four categories and only seems like he’s been around forever. In the last three seasons, Butler has averaged this line: .303 AVG .370 OBP .844 OPS 18 HR 89 RBI 76 R

Perhaps most important is that he’s also averaged 159 games per season. That’s allowed him to be ranked in Yahoo’s top 100 for each of those last three seasons.

Skeptics Say: Now remember that he plays DH. Is a guy that can’t play any position, won’t guarantee you 20 home runs, or one steal going to go ahead of a shortstop that could steal thirty bases or hit twenty home runs? Tough call. And for what it’s worth Butler isn’t improving the way that we would typically like to see from a player in his mid 20s. His strikeouts and walks went in the wrong direction last year and as a result his average fell under .300 for the first time since 2008.

Peer Comparison: The reason that Butler isn’t the number one designated hitter at any of the sites in the What They’re Saying section is because of David Ortiz. Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove is endorsing Butler as the top DH in 2012. A quick look at the numbers from last year favors Ortiz, but it’s close – especially looking at the last column:

Player

Runs

HR

RBI

AVG

Doubles

Age

Ortiz

84

29

96

.309

40

36

Butler

74

19

95

.291

44

26

We discussed the transition for hitters in the recent past of going from the age 35 to age 36 season. The fact is that these two players are heading in very different direction as far as upside is concerned. Butler has been in the top ten in doubles each of the last three years, and the possibility of those doubles turning to home runs is still very possible. Ortiz’s average was higher than it has been in recent years while Butler’s was lower. Ortiz was playing for his next contract last year – and while that’s still true this season there’s no way he’ll ever get a big multiyear pay day again.

Team Outlook: These aren’t your older cousins Royals. The Royals were tenth in baseball in runs and seventh in OPS last year. They were helped by an unlikely season from Melky Cabrera, but many pieces that were there last year will be back and better in 2012.  Alex Gordon was one of the best stories of 2012 and from a fantasy standpoint can do it all. Eric Hosmer was not in attendance all season, but will be this year. That’s scary given that he was ranked in the top 90 anyway. The x-factor will likely be Mike Moustakas who could not emulate the successes he had had in the minors before last season.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #2 Designated Hitter; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #2 Designated Hitter & #88 Overall; RotoChamp: #247 Overall

Projection: Butler will play in 35 more games than Ortiz this season.

83 R 20 HR 94 RBI 1 SB .305 AVG .370 OBP .835 OPS