Nobody in the MLB has more at-bats as a designated hitter this season than Billy Butler. Since this once-renowned batter averages a .296 and has 87 RBIs through his career, this would usually be a good thing for the Kansas City Royals and their fans. You would think so may ABs would translate into a lot of success at the plate for Billy this year, but you would be woefully incorrect.
His HR total of three is clearly a problem, and virtually everyone with significant time as a DH this year has more than that. Unfortunately, the home run department isn’t the only area in which Billy is clearly failing to produce. In 337 at-bats in the first half, Butler only batted in 35 runs. David Ortiz has 56 RBIs as a DH in 10 less at-bats, while Nelson Cruz has 40 in only 173 appearances as a DH. Butler’s extra-base hit total of 21 is also dreadfully low. Big Papi has 37, and Houston Astros first baseman Chris Carter has 30, despite batting as a DH 99 less times than Butler this year.
All these struggles point to Butler making an uncomfortable exit, whether it comes in the offseason or because of an upcoming trade. Billy represents KC’s third-highest chunk of salary space with a four-year, $30-million contract. That deal includes a $12.5-million option for next season with a $1-million buyout. Unless a huge turnaround happens in the second half of this season, the Royals will undoubtedly exercise that buyout and watch Butler walk before their next season begins.
It’s sad to say about KC’s most prolific offensive player since Mike Sweeney, but letting Billy go will be best for the franchise. You simply cannot pay that kind of money for the kind of production Butler has given the Royals so far in 2014, and a bevy of big-impact bats will be up for grabs from now until the beginning of the 2015 season. With heavy hearts, the Royals will part ways with Billy, as they should, and look elsewhere for their new DH.