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June 23, 2014

The Buyer's Guide

Billy Butler

by J.P. Breen


A week ago, we dissected Michael Wacha’s recent drop in velocity and his dramatic decrease in swings-and-misses. The article aimed to make a larger point about small sample sizes and how fantasy owners can identify trend changes in small samples, only to subsequently track them to determine if the small sample is actually indicative of something larger and more permanent. A week later, the St. Louis Cardinals placed Wacha on the DL with shoulder issues, and it appears that small sample was hinting at something larger.

Though y’all slacked in the comments earlier in the month, the suggestions from last week were strong. I almost grabbed Garrett Richards, because he’s enjoyed such an interesting breakout this year, but I wanted to focus on a position player this week. Considering the amount of Billy Butler questions that have been flying through the Bat Signal over the past couple months, I grabbed the recommendation from BP reader D1Johnson. If you have a specific player you’d like to see in this space next week, be sure to leave your suggestions for next week in the comments, or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@JP_Breen).

Let’s do this.

*****

Billy Butler has caused some consternation among fantasy owners the past couple years. Two seasons ago, the 28-year-old designated hitter mashed 29 home runs, drove in 107 runs, and hit .313 with an OPS pushing .900. He was entering his prime and appeared to be on the verge of becoming a perennial stud in all fantasy leagues.

Then, last year happened and worry began to seep in. He was still plenty valuable at the plate in a pure baseball sense—as he still managed a .283 TAv and was top 20 in OBP—but his stock dropped dramatically in fantasy leagues. Butler ranked outside the top 150 players and was the 23rd-ranked fantasy first baseman. Two main concerns hovered over him like a stubborn fog on a misty morning: (1) his power declined significantly, as he only hit 15 homers and his ISO dropped to a career-low .124; and (2) he lost his first-base eligibility in most leagues and would now be relegated to a UTIL role in 2014, which places immense pressure on his bat to produce at an elite level.

As fantasy owners who drafted him know quite well, Butler has fallen off a cliff. He has hit two homers in 301 plate appearances and his true average has tumbled to .249 TAv, which is straight-up unacceptable for a guy who can do nothing but clog up a utility spot in fantasy rosters. His 7.6 percent walk rate is the worst of his career since 2008, and he’s swinging at a higher percentage of pitches than he has since his rookie year in 2007.

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Related Content:  Fantasy,  Billy Butler

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Raising Aces: A Tale o... (06/20)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Mic... (06/16)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Jak... (07/01)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Closer to Me: Week 13 (06/23)

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