Most who know the Kansas City Royals well would agree that Billy Butler gets a bad break with the fanbase here. It even took high-ranking members of the KC media pointing it out last season to help people realize that Butler is the kind of offensive stud every good team needs. After a season that left the door open for critics of all types to blast him, Billy will most definitely prove the haters wrong soon.
Butler will show offensive improvement this year for the same reasons that the rest of the lineup will show improvement. The team-changing acquisitions of Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante gives KC a great 1-2 punch to lead the lineup and set the table for the heart of the order. It would be almost criminal to project Billy finishing 2014 with less RBI than what he had in 2013.
Even in an off year, Billy was a huge part of KC’s 2013 offense. Only three other Royals finished the year with more at-bats, and only two other Royals with more than 10 at-bats bested Billy’s average of .289. Butler’s 82 RBIs led the team by one over KC’s new No. 5 hitter Alex Gordon. Billy was also second on the team last year in doubles and total hits. Another factor fans often forget about is his ability to stay healthy. Even as a DH, this shouldn’t be understated.
Billy appeared in at least 158 games for KC in each of the last five seasons. Last year’s batting average and slugging percentage from Butler were the worst since that five-year period began. This leaves a big margin for improvement, even without the addition of better hitters at No. 1 and No. 2 in the order. Fans should also note Billy’s proven determination before deciding whether or not he can be better than what he showed last year.
During the previously mentioned five-year period of consistently intimidating the daylights out of AL pitching, Butler’s average improved in three of four seasons prior to last year’s struggles. He responded to his one previous year of regression by improving his batting average by .022 points the following season, bringing his .291 average to .313.
Because of both his desire to improve and an improved lineup in front of him, Billy is bound to be better in 2014.