Ned Yost says he wants his first baseman to steal 10 bases in 2011--is that realistic, or insanity?
Spring Training is always good for a few canned stories. I don’t know about you, but I have lost count of how many guys are in the best shape of their lives as well as how many guys are just working on things to get ready for the season. It may take the players a few weeks to get game ready, but their clichés are in mid-season form right out of the gate. So, when a manager comes out and says that his hefty first baseman has a chance of stealing ten bases in 2011, you take notice.
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If Billy Butler is to ever realize his power potential, he will need to change his approach at the plate.
Among qualified first basemen last summer, Billy Butler’s .318 batting average ranked him third, just behind Joey Votto’s .324 BA and Miguel Cabrera’s average of .328. That’s a good foundation for fantasy, but Butler lagged in the power categories. His 15 home runs ranked him 20th out of 24 players and his 78 RBI were good for 18th place. While he was the best hitter on the Royals, his results were a mixed bag for fantasy owners who undoubtedly enjoyed the batting average, but wished he would realize his power potential. Still, it was quite a productive year as his career-best .309 TAv ranked him eighth among qualified first basemen.
Entering the 2010 season, Butler’s goal was to cut down on his strikeout totals. Given he whiffed a career worst once every 5.9 at bats the previous year, it was an admirable goal. Under the tutelage of new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, Butler worked on improving his contact. The emphasis wasn’t on type of contact. (i.e. Hitting with more power or driving the ball to the pull field.) Rather it was just on making contact. Period.
In the last of his preseason "Hot Spots," Michael Street looks at the underappreciated 1B Billy Butler, the increasing flexibility of DH Hideki Matsui, and how Scott Rolen and Juan Francisco fit in to Cincinnati's 3B picture.
For this final preseason Hot Spots column, I’m focusing on underdrafted players, anticipating our shift to targeting undervalued players during the regular season. There’s no better place to start than Kansas City, whose offense is projected by BP to score 741 runs, fourth-worst in the AL, making fantasy owners overlook Royals players.
One who doesn’t deserve such a snub is Billy Butler, whose 32.3 VORP in 2009 was second-best on the team. He’ll need to reach his 80thPECOTA percentile to beat that VORP in 2010, but even his 50th percentile has fantasy value. Though he isn’t a slugger, Butler’s 14% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate from 2007-9 show his strong BA contributions. If he can recapture the patience he exhibited in 2008, when he had a career-best 12.9% K rate, Butler could hit .300 again in 2010; his 60th percentile would get him there, while also cresting .500 SLG.
A Butler's doing it and in for a Pence, but a Grizzly future for Tim Lincecum?
Sometimes, a prospect is just so good that he takes the decision away from the team. The Royals have to make room for Butler because not doing so becomes the elephant in the room. If you're playing Emil Brown (.186/.237/.229) and Ryan Shealy (.113/.186/.208, and to the DL) and Mike Sweeney (.263/.341/.368, and to the bank) while keeping the second-best hitter in your organization at Triple-A, it becomes difficult to argue that you're trying to win. The Royals wanted to be taken seriously-as evidenced by the $55 million commitment to Gil Meche-not calling up Butler is incongruous.
B.J. Surhoff and Deivi Cruz have compormising pictures of Orioles management. Darren Dreifort's latest injury has the Dodgers pondering his future yet again. The Brewers may have grasped the concept of sunk costs. The Phillies' bullpen is a mess. News, notes, and Kahrlisms from 25 major league teams in the latest edition of Transaction Analysis.