A few weeks ago, Billy Butler of the Kanas City Royals won the American League Silver Slugger award at designated hitter. I pointed out at the time that this was tantamount to being named the best DH in baseball as the offensive component is the only relevant metric for designated hitters and of course there is only the American League with which to contend with respect to designated hitters.
This week, Butler was more formally named the best designated hitter in baseball, being awarded the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. It was not a near run thing, either. Eighty-four ballots were cast by broadcasters, beat reporters and other members of the media and eighty of those gave first place to Butler. Nor can there be a lot of argument; Butler was one of the best hitters at any position in the American League this year and that was playing in the rather large Kauffman Stadium. He hit for both power and average and, as I am sure St Louis Cardinals‘ closer Jason Motte and others will tell you, he comes through in the clutch.
Butler is just the second ever Royal to win the award. The first did so three times, however, and those who don’t already know will not likely be surprised to learn that it was archetypical designated hitter Hal McRae who won in 1976, 1980 and 1982. The odds that Butler can also repeat are not bad. Although he is the fifth hitter to win the award in the last five years, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the league this year and there is no reason to think that he cannot perform similarly next year. If he does, it will be very hard for anyone to catch him.